The Boys in the Band: a review of the theatrical classic on Netflix

The Boys in the Band was a whirlwind from start to finish of conflicting emotions, changing opinions and utter shock, and because of this it did not disappoint.

The Boys in the Band, adapted from the stage play of the same name by Mart Crowley launched on Netflix a few weeks ago, with great reviews and ratings rolling in ever since. Starring an entirely gay cast, the film follows the events of a birthday party hosted in 1968 at an apartment in Manhattan, when the host’s (Parsons) heterosexual roommate from college makes an appearance (Brian Hutchison).

What is most striking about this film for me is the maintained theatrical feeling while we watch. It is clear throughout this was originally a stage play and the script and staging only emphasises this. The singular and unchanging setting of the apartment and style of script and speech where characters deliver lines in turn with almost no overlap contribute to this, but I would argue this style is quite polarising. Personally, I love it. The stage, as a format of art we cannot enjoy right now, was perfectly translated onto the screen in a way I loved, but equally I understand some may find this fairly stagnant, and dare I say boring.

The storyline, however, is so twisted it can’t not be enjoyed, in a really sadistic way. The main event of the party is a game Parsons’ character, Michael proposes: a game where all the men in the room need to phone the one person they truly have loved. Given the 1960s setting and stigma surrounding homosexuality at the time, this gives the play a really dark edge which provides a stark contrast to the feel-good party prior to this progression. The game leads to moments of joy, sadness, intensity and confusion that make it the whirlwind I described before.

Opinions of all the characters will probably shift dramatically as well. Rannells’ character Larry grew on me over the course of the film, the complete opposite to Michael (Parsons) who I became sour towards, only to then begin to like him come the end. Some characters such as Cowboy (Charlie Carver) provided comedic release, but most other characters, to offer some criticism, didn’t really do anything at all.

In short, the film packs a punch in many ways, and worth the watch regardless of viewing tastes and favourite genres. There is something to like and find endearing in this film for all. 

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About Author

Sam Hewitson

Sam Hewitson

Travel Editor - 2019/20

Editor-In-Chief - 2020/21

April 2021
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