The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Netflix has been absolutely thriving over the course of the past few months in light of the global pandemic. Audiences look to Netflix for all entertainment needs: bingeable new series, old favorites, classic movies, and new releases. I have mostly kept up with the new movie releases, but The Boys in the Band was not even on my radar. I had heard nothing about it, and when the opportunity was presented to review it, I glanced at the IMDB page quickly and decided, sure--but I’ll go in cold, so I literally had no expectations.
Joe Mantello directs his first major film with confidence, and while there is nothing widely spectacular about his direction, it absolutely fits the bill. The challenge with this direction is that the film mostly takes place in a single location, and Mantello still made it seem fresh enough to hold the audience's interest. The film literally grows darker visually as it carries its story along, and Mantello does a fine job at growing that emotional darkening as well.
The film is based off of the stage play of the same name, originally off-Broadway and then on Broadway for its 50th anniversary--which awarded it with the Tony for the Best Revival. The opening montage was reminiscent of an episode opening of Sex & the City but for gay men in the late 1960s. What starts as an upbeat, fun time quickly turns to a drunk, emotional night full of drama. A group of gay men get together for a birthday celebration, and when an unexpected guest shows up and the rain pushes the crew inside from the balcony, the tone of the evening also shifts internal, forcing the men to face their inner struggles. It almost seems as if the night becomes an intervention for the unexpected guest, a straight friend of the host, and a therapy session for the rest of the group. It was like watching a drunk night in college with that looming feeling of knowing you were going to wake up the next morning and think, “What happened to us last night?”
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I can confidently say, based on the two episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” that I’ve seen in passing, that I cannot stand Jim Parsons’ character, Sheldon. However, I do not hold that against him and have enjoyed his performances in Hidden Figures (2016) and the recent Netflix series titled Hollywood. Parsons carries the story in this narrative too, and I can say he does it well. Matt Bomer shows off his abs early in the runtime, and we never seem them again--but boy, are they glorious! The birthday boy, Harold (Zachary Quinto), is just weird. The dramatic acting by everyone involved surely plays out better on stage than on screen. It was fine, but ultimately it felt forced and over rehearsed as opposed to genuine.
... A Drunk, Emotional Night Full Of Drama
The Boys In The Band (2020) | NETFLIX
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
As I mentioned before, the ambiance of the set turns darker following the mood of the given situation as the night grows older. That is not so impressive as it is clever in its storytelling, and the only time the camera leaves the location of the apartment other than the opening montage is during flashbacks described by the characters. That alone is a feat in itself, to keep the tempo of the pacing both visually and mentally stimulating, so it succeeds there. The costumes were fine enough, but forgettable.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
In what I can assume is an attempt to stay true to the aura of the stage play, the film does not have a memorable score or music selection. A lot of the dialogue has no accompanying music, and it works in some moments, but in other moments I craved a dramatic boom and felt that it could have added to the story.
I don’t know exactly what I thought this film was going to be, but it definitely was not what I expected. The heightened dramatic moments bubble up to the tippy top of the glass, but never completely run over, and the ending falls a bit flat in that it seems like it cuts everything short to end it. But somehow, it makes it feel weirdly accurate to a real drunken, emotional night amongst friends.