›› Dante vs. Mohammed Ali ‹‹

a short film by Marc Wagenaar.

2018 | 28 mins | Netherlands.

a lush portrait of boys in love.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Marc Wagenaar, this lush portrayal of boys in love is as beautifully shot, as it's often surreal in parts.

It tells the emotional story of a close-knit farming community whose only release from the mundanity of their daily lives seemingly is a weekly boxing match, as held being the Netherlands, aboard a barge with the spectators on the river banks following the blood stained boat downstream. Only this time around the boxing match is between best friends and perhaps more Wolf (Bas Keizer); a teen more interested in poetry and the arts than swinging an uppercut in the direction of the object of his desire Alexander (Gijs Blom). Refusing to fight, a re-match by the locals is called for. Between then and now however, can Wolf, ever the Dante of the piece persuade Alexander to leave the village with him, for a life of sexual freedom together?

Vividly capturing the largely unspoken love between two young men, this captivating work frankly has a lot going to it, thanks largely to the engaging interplay between the boys, with Keizer in particular achingly expressing the emotions of a young man who questions how can he punch, let alone hurt the one person he loves? That Blom takes more of a supporting role is to his credit, having already let his star shine as the lead in Mischa Kamp's noted feature Boys - Jongens.

That Wolf fantasizes about Alexander makes for a series of dreamlike sequences that are Jarman-esque in style and certainly would not have been out of place in a film bearing his name. Yet as creative as this short is - the marriage proposal scene is a classic, it's equally one that finds Wagenaar pay specific attention to contrasts, not only in the form of Wolf's artistic and often blind approach to life being starkly juxtaposed with Alexander's realistic view of the world, but equally reflected in the brutality of Wolf's grandfather (Helmert Woudenberg); even keen to toughen his grandson up, only to be found listening to the moving beauty of Handel's Ombra mai fu (Never was a shade); the opening aria from his 1738 opera Xerxes.

Mixing poetry, classical music and the gripping story of two teenagers in love with each other, this is a work that by no surprise comes full circle, returning to the boxing match between the two, only for the cinematic punch to be the open expression of the love between them. Simply wonderous.

›› available as part of the NEW QUEER VISIONS shorts compilation - THE DUTCH BOYS.
›› posted: Saturday, 7th August, 2021.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 5 stars. 

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