a film by James Bolton
2008 | 90 mins | US
›› Dream Boy
a superbly shot, if somewhat surreal tale of gay first love
Dream Boy by James Bolton With the obvious exception of the like of Big Eden, Brokeback Mountain and Red Dirt, relatively few stateside gay films leave the urban metropolis to venture forth into the great outdoors. Only and as this assured piece of filmmaking from writer and director James Bolton goes to show, coming to terms with your sexuality is an emotional experience, no matter where you live.

For here, painfully shy teen Nathan has been moved from town to town, with the cotton fields of Louisiana representing the latest relocation bid from a father only too well aware that this change of environment stands little chance of uniting their fragmented family unit. Ill-at-ease with his father and with a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Nathan takes refuge in his growing friendship with boy next door Roy; an older student at the same high school who doubles as the local bus driver.

Becoming study partners and a lot more beside real quick, it isn't long before Roy introduces Nathan to his friends Burke and Randy, with the four soon to be found setting off on a camping trip into the bayou and an old plantation house said to be haunted by ghosts of times past. Only is the past about to catch up with Nathan, given this teenager somehow appears far more sexually aware, than what an introspective boy of his years should be?

Dream Boy by James Bolton Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Jim Grimsley, this page to screen adaptation brilliantly captures the close bond between two teenage boys who dare to fall in love with each other in a devout community, clearly not as open to the sexual spectrum of life, as other parts of America. That many gay adolescents live in fear of their homosexuality being discovered in such areas, is not in doubt. Yet other teenagers also live in fear for variant reasons. And it is here that Diana Scarwid as Nathan's mother Vivian steals the show, even away from Thomas Jay Ryan as the creepy father of the piece, with her intense scenes letting us in on the fact that something is seriously wrong back home.

And that's just the point. For there's a lot going on in this feature, laced as it is with a strong sense of foreboding, to the extent that you just know that things are not going to turn out for the better. But it's well played for sure, with lush cinematography throughout, let alone Stephan Bender as Nathan and Max (son of Nicolas Roeg and Theresa Russell) Roeg as Roy, having enough "touch me" sequences to more than keep the boys happy. True, the final scene is as ambiguous as the book, but then this sensitive tale of gay first love is equally that of a superbly shot, if somewhat surreal work. Hauntingly beautiful, kind of goes without saying.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
screened as part of the 23rd London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, 2009.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 6.July.2009.
starring: Stephan Bender, Max Roeg, Thomas Jay Ryan, Diana Scarwid, Randy Wayne,
Owen Beckman, Tom Gilroy, Tricia Mara and Rickie Lee Jones.
Copyright 2009 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #215
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