By Sonny Tapia
“The Boys in the Band” lives up to the hype and controversy of the original play produced in 1968 through true actor portrayals.
Seven gay friends celebrate a birthday of Zachary Quinto’s character Harold in Michael’s apartment in New York 1968. Michael is played by Jim Parsons in the film.
The original production of “The Boys in the Band” was created by Mart Crowley in 1968 and debuted as an Off-Broadway production in 1968.
The play came out a year before the Stonewall Riots adding to the controversy surrounding the production of gay rights.
The play was adapted into a film in 1970 starring Kenneth Nelson as the lead role of Michael. The film came out before the AIDS movement and recognition.
Most of the original cast died in the 1980s due to AIDS related reasons, but inspired the current cast to revive the production.
In 2018, the cast took to the Broadway stage to revive “The Boys in the Band” for its 50th anniversary of the original play in 1968.
The Broadway production won a Tony Award for the best revival of a play at the 2019 Tony Awards. Production of the Netflix Original Film began and created something worth watching.
The entire cast of the film is openly gay. This gave the film a feel of authenticity since the actors were portraying gay characters living with guilt and pain.
The actors being openly gay adds more raw emotion to the scenes that needed it.
Alan played by Brian Hutchison said in an interview with E News that it was almost like a sigh of relief and understanding for the entire cast to know that they were all in the same boat.
In the film Michael has given up drinking and smoking for the past five weeks because he is simply upset with how it feels the morning after.
Throughout the movie Michael is seen slowly going back to his former self, but struggling to accept who he is inside.
This lead him to create a drinking game where the party goers earn points for making phone calls to the one person they truly loved in their lives.
This enables the friends to uncover truths about themselves and their true feelings about how their lives have turned out.
Alan is the unexpected heterosexual friend that was not supposed to be at the party in the first place. He is the minority in the movie when it comes to sexuality and displays moments of strong homophobia toward Emory played by Robin de Jesus.
Michael says “If we can only learn to not hate ourselves so much,” and “Run, charge, run, buy, borrow, make, spin, run, squander, beg, run, run, run, waste, waste, waste,” this relates to his true feelings within himself.
He continuously adds insult to injury through beating his friends down along with himself. Michael later tells Alan that he ended a friendship because he could not face who he truly was.
The film can offer a self reflection to some viewers that understand what it is like to be gay in a society that does not fully accept it.
The characters face their own personal issues throughout the film that the viewer can see without them necessarily talking about it.
Viewers can see Michael crumbling through each argument and phone call, drinking and smoking more and more.
Michael continuously runs from his true self because of his religious upbringing and beliefs. This forces him to continue to “turn” as Harold puts it, until his full breakdown.
He harps on all of his friends’ love lives drunkenly, while risking his friendships as a whole. Regardless, Michael continues to show his uncaringness for his friends.
Finding themselves remains the focus of the film and a better understanding of who they want to be come. The emotions of everyone feel raw no matter what scene the characters are in.
The bottled up fear can be seen through each character seeping out from his mouth as they speak during the drinking game.
The Boys in the Band reflects the belonging and identity of the gay community, while showing the viewer some of the internal struggles some may face.
The film leaves viewers thinking about whether they truly know themselves. If they do not then they think of how they can find it.