I think it’s been established that being gay or lesbian isn’t a choice. But being happy often is, and the question here is whether a young man struggling with his identity can make that choice.
Synopsis from Wolfe Video: Two teen track stars discover first love as they train for the biggest relay race of their young lives. Sieger is a thoughtful 15-year-old who grapples with his emerging gayness. The spirited and outgoing Marc is his love interest. In their boyish summer courtship the two of them swim, bike, run — and share ice creams and kisses as they gradually find the courage to be vulnerable with one another. The romance between them unfolds with a palpable sense of longing — and an aching sequence of heartache as Sieger tries to fight the inevitable.
One of the interesting things about this film is watching Sieger go through various stages of coming out to himself. His interest is sparked when Marc and him first start talking, but obviously is more piqued when they all go swimming. Sieger actually starts to leave with everyone else, but then goes back to explore whatever is happening.
We see their relationship start to grow as they share experiences. Eventually, they end up at Marc’s house where Sieger meets the family, even playing with Marc’s younger sister. There at the end of their day we see things starting to come together. But of course the course of love never did run true…
Sieger is still hesitant to admit his feelings either openly or to himself. He still finds himself trying with girls, even though every scene with him trying to court one is awkward and forced. In front of his brother and other friends, he just can’t bring himself to be who he is or acknowledge his feelings for Marc. He’s also somewhat stuck in the role of being the responsible one as his brother, Ed, seems to be a little off the rails.
But what finally moves Sieger to action is when something happens that should make him very happy doesn’t. Of course I won’t give it all away here. But we can see the unhappiness on his face when everyone around him is full of joy. Perhaps it’s at this point he gives himself permission to be happy. After all, isn’t part of being happy a choice?
One scene I found particularly cute is when the track team goes camping, and Marc is singing by the fire. To everyone else it would seem he’s just singing out in general, but the song and his eyes say he’s singing to Sieger.
It can be difficult to create a gay coming of age film in this day and age without becoming cliche. We’ve seen so many of them that often they start to look all alike. The Boys actually makes me think a bit of Last Summer and Summer Storm. (interesting both are Summer titles) I think of Last Summer from the production values, and Summer Storm from the coming of age and team sports storylines.
The Boys is still a refreshing look at coming out to one’s self, and how that process is still often fraught with self-doubt and disappointment. First love should be a wonderful thing, but in this case it’s also somewhat traumatic.