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Some of the negative reaction this film induces can be attributed to
the subject matter. In other words, any film ... regardless of the
script, the direction, the casting, the acting, or any other technical
element ... would be greeted with hostility by large numbers of people,
simply because they disapprove that the subject is even being
addressed. In this case, the subject is the relationship between a
29-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy.
For open minded viewers, this is a well made film, especially given that it is low budget. Eban is not some lecherous old man, the stereotyped image conjured up in the befuddled minds of moralistic puritans. Eban is caring and sensitive. He's not the least bit predatory. In fact, it's Charley, the boy, who advances the physical relationship as soon as he senses Eban's interest. And the film's plot is so bereft of sexual activity that it seems downright prudish. The only abominable behavior comes from the two guys' fathers, both of whom exude a pathological hatred toward their sons.
That said, a relationship involving a teenage boy must be examined skeptically. And I am doubtful that a long term relationship that benefits both Eban and Charley would actually work out. Still, Charley asks a valid question: "What about my rights?"
Overall acting is highly naturalistic. Characters pause before speaking, as would be expected of people communicating thoughtfully and seriously. Both lead actors act largely with their eyes. There's a lot of silence. Dialogue is sparse. The overall tone of the film is serious and very low-key. The story's ending is appropriate, given the plot circumstances.
"For nonconformity, the world whips you with its displeasure", said Ralph Waldo Emerson over a hundred years ago. I applaud the film's producer and director for having the courage to make a film that addresses an unpopular topic.
I like the story - light but very humane! A gay movie does not have to be burdensome. The film is recommendable to those who wish to see light romance about gays, and this is it! Giovanni Andrade and Brent Fellows are promising to be a good actors in the future. Both direction and cinematography are great. The story focuses mainly on Eban and Charley, and the characters are not screaming fags.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Eban and Charley (2000) Although at first glance one might consider
this a gay romance spiced with the controversy of age difference, James
Bolton's film is mainly a reinterpretation of parental issues that
pertain to any gay or straight dynamic.
Eban is a 29 year old man, unemployed, uncertain of his future and with no other choice but to live with his parents. Parents who not so delicately ask him to respect his curfew, to go to bed early, etc. Charley is just a 15 year old kid who has a somewhat precarious relationship with his father. As soon as they meet, one could reason that they must first resolve their parental issues before trying to consolidate their passionate relationship.
The characters, however, are not entirely aware of the importance of fatherly figures in their lives. That's up for the viewer to discern and interpret, a task that is much easier in Bolton's recent film "Dream Boy".
Both characters are longing for freedom. But in order to reach freedom a sacrifice must be made. It has been discussed in psychoanalytic theory the importance of independency. Every young man, at some point in his life, craves for freedom. In many cases getting a job can secure financial independency and thus leaving home for good becomes a real possibility. But there is no such thing as being free as the wind. A new shackle replaces the old one. The young man must thrive at the cost of his own hard work, money after all doesn't grow in trees. He is free from his parents but he's now in a new type of confinement. How he deals and resolves this apparent paradox will help him to achieve adulthood.
Sacrifice can also be understood as leaving something behind. Something deemed precious or essential. That is why traditional psychoanalytic theory associates sacrifice with castration. It's all about leaving something behind. In some cases, in some cultures, this takes upon a most literal meaning: what is circumcision after all? Isn't it a symbolic castration? Isn't it leaving something behind, leaving part of the penis behind, the same penis that Freud appointed as phallus? Lacan however renounces this Freudian interpretation. For Lacan castration is never a negative process, it's the only way in which the individual can be successfully inserted in the symbolic order. If castration does not take place then the individual turns psychotic. Castration for Lacan means to enter into the symbolic order, and that means to enter into language. Human language is the required castration before any individual can become a part of society.
Nonetheless, what can be said about sacrifice and castration regarding Eban and Charley? Well, there are at least two things I feel confident enough to explain. "Laws are stupid" says Charley when confronted with the possibility of Eban being accused of pedophilia. Laws are stupid. Laws are castrating indeed. When Charley says "I don't think age should matter if you love someone" he inadvertently relies on an Aristotelian conception of the Supreme Good. According to Aristotle, to obey the law means to feel good (doing the right thing makes you feel good); this a Greek paradigm that Socrates upholds even when it means his own demise (in Plato's dialog about the laws Socrates explains why he must face the death penalty instead of running away, because to obey the law is the only way to preserve the polis, and thus to reinforce the Greek culture). Kant, on the other hand, affirms that obeying the law is painful and it must be so. To obey the law, according to Kant, means to experience a narcissistic diminishment. By obeying the law I understand that I'm just one man, that I'm not the center of the universe, that there are things I must obey although I don't agree with them.
Of course, we no longer live in Classic Greece. We live in a post-Kantian world. Now the only alternative is to follow Charley's reasoning: age shouldn't be a concern because it's no longer required to support a law which neither of them can respect. What fascinates me about Bolton's film is how he handles pedophilia, probably one of the most controversial subjects, and how he turns this relationship into a metaphor of sacrifice, castrating parents and conceptions of Aristotelian and Kantian law.
To start with, the completely distorted definition of the word
pedophilia. Pedophilia is not a legal term. It is not defined by what
the age of consent laws are in a given country or state. Pedophilia is
a medical term, and its meaning does not change according to laws.
Quoting one of the most respected works in psychiatry, the
Comprehensive Textbook Of Psychiatry, vol.1, by Harold I. Kaplan, MD,
and Benjamin J. Sadock, MD: "Diagnostic criteria for pedophilia:
Pedophilia involves preferential sexual activity with children, either
in fantasy or actuality. Adult sexual activities or fantasies involving
prepubertal children, the essential behavior in pedophilia, may be
exclusively homosexual or heterosexual, or a mixture of both, and may
occur within the family, among acquaintance groups, or between
strangers." This is not the case in this film, as it isn't the case in
most relationships incorrectly classified as pedophilia in sexually
sick America. The British puritan heritage certainly plays a role here,
but I've always wondered why and how the hysteria about
intergenerational relationships got so bad in the USA. And that's the
greatest achievement of this film. The characters are real and humane
for a change. The director and the screenwriter just went and told a
honest, true to life love story, one like hundreds of thousands that
happen everyday, everywhere. It's a slap in the face of the hypocrite
American society, a wake-up call.
Recommended readings: "Harmful To Minors - The Perils Of Protecting Children Against Sex", by Judith Levine (winner of the Book Of The Year award of the Los Angeles Times in 2000).
"Sexual Panic - America's New Era Of Witch-Hunting", by Jerry Steinbach.
"Adolescent Sexual Health in Europe and the US" - www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/419
I first saw Dream Boy from the director James Bolton and was interested
to see what else he had made. Dream Boy was quite a highly produced,
sweet but ultimately conventional film. Yet its muse on things was a
curious thread that lingered.
Eban and Charley is a raw and underground-feeling interpretation of ill-faited love. It tip-toes through a provocative realtionship involving underage sex. The performers are fantastically cast and captured. They were pulled-back nicely for the documentary style photography. An effective melancholic music theme returns a couple of times, a bit like a wound-up childhood toy. Overall, this is just as good as his bigger-budget follow-up, it may be a shade better for its rawness.
If this is a genre you like to search through - this is a must watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think this is an excellent gay love story.
I started off watching this film with caution. With a very open mind about true love.
Two gay guys meet together and fall in love. Society judges them.
Eban has to be stronger because of society but in the end Charley is stronger. At the end of the film, Eban fell apart but Charley kept strong. Charley is stronger than Eban. I was really hoping for a happy ending to Eban and Charley and I got it.
This was a very nice film. I just spent 23 quid to import this film from Canada and I'm very glad I did. One of my favourite ever films.
I really love this film. Two gay guys fall in love. Society will really judge them cos one guy is under age whereas the other guy is overage.
I think Brent Fellows and Gio Black Peter did a brilliant acting job. I think all the actors in this film did fine.
Charley doesn't have a mum any more. All he has for love is a total ass hole father who makes it very clear he doesn't care for, accept or love Charley.
It all depends on the circumstances. This is like real life. Life is not black or white. Life is 50 shades of grey.
In this film, Eban is pretty childish and naive himself. Charley is obviously gay, very deep-thinking and mature and looking for more affection in his life. I didn't feel at all that Eban was grooming Charley or some kind of predatory paedophile.
I was nail-biting by the end.
Both families found out what was going on and Eban was going to go to prison. Charley was more grown-up and stronger than Eban.
I was totally gripped by the end of the film and urging Eban to MAN UP and take RESPONSIBILITY for what he had started.
I loved the ending. Thank God Eban manned up and went for true love.
I know some people will judge this film and say its paedophile justification.
I also know its two blokes meet and fall in love and have to fight for their right to be together.
Like Charley says, who else should have the right to tell him who he can or cannot love? What about Charley's human rights?
What more can I say? Lovely beautiful gay film about two guys falling in love. With a happy ending. What more could a true romantic gay guy want?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A sad young man returns back home, / and finds preoccupied parents; / what are his life's currents / that make him sad? Can it be / that his garden lacks a gnome, / and the gray buzz lacks a bee? // Christmas days are on their way! / And if he left poor, dirty Seattle, / he shouldn't worry but a little, / for if he shoves photos with guilt / in the drawer, and being gay/ buries the words up to the hilt // in him, he has more to worry about:/ not that he loves boys underage, / though their skin seems not for him the rage,/ but being not a great talker / what happens, there's no doubt, / you look like an awkward stalker // every time the boy appears / gracefully his time on screen; / something inside you wants to scream. / But the boy is cool and fresh, / and he can appease your fears, / and the film won't make things rush // - in fact the flirt is numb and slow,/ and each time it gets personal, / turns deviant to an arsenal / of absurd stops and silences, / till all interest is brought low, / of investment and expenses // but for the young Andrade / who plays the inviting Charley; / in fact he is truly lovely! / - unless one exempts what's real / the way it was turned to charade / by the film-maker who spoils the deal: // no adolescent is this mature/ is absolutely fine, Eden / can be idealized or even, / and it helps to boost romance, / but you'll never find in nature/ ideology in such torments:// mother dead by drunken waif, / also deaf, like her son's best friend; / father is invariably a fiend, / and randomly one's beaten dead./ Reality as frustrated wife? / When she has in the same head // love ideal and victimized / you won't forget your dear old lover / when you get old, he'll get you over! / Ah, but viewers! What do they know? / Not that she's confused and dazed,/ but the happy, dead end is now.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
That's a small little fascinating film even if it is too slow in many
ways and with too many close-ups instead of action and dialogue. Yet it
is an important film because of its subject.
Can a 15 year old boy fall in love with a man twice his age, hence 29 years old? The answer is of course and the distance between the two is nothing really since it will proportionally become smaller and smaller with time.
Can a 15 year old boy know for life who he wants to live with, to sleep with, to cry with, to laugh with, etc.? The answer again is yes. No one would object if it were a girl? A little bit young maybe but that's all and anyway the parents would either refuse that love, which I doubt, or more probably accept it and keep it in store for a while waiting for a wedding. That's what engagement is all about. What is shocking some in this situation is that it is a boy. Hence they are homophobes.
The question though is what can and must society do to avoid what is in a way a perversion, pedophilia. But there is a fair difference between a man under 30 falling in love with a boy over 15, and an older man having a relation with a boy or a girl under puberty. The line is difficult to define and in this particular case a court with a jury would probably without thinking too much send the man to prison.
But is it sane? We all know that some young people between 15 and 20 can fall in love desperately, without any alternative, mad with their love for the object of that love, for the person their love has decided to target. That's where this film could have been stronger.
Of course a 15 year old person cannot go to a foreign country without his/her own passport, so eloping to Denmark or The Netherlands is out of the question. But the film should have gone a lot farther than just running away to some other state within the US.
The two people, the boy and the adult, should go to a judge of some kind, or to a court for a judge to decide not on a crime but on a particular case. We could even think of the adult voluntarily and with the consent of the teenager taking the risk of going to prison by making the relation public and if love is what it is the teenager would have waited and suffered from his environment till his man-friend came back.
It requires a lawyer. Sure. But this treatment of the subject would have been pedagogical for the public: two people of marrying age have the right to fall in love and have a relation. Society is supposed to set a certain age over which intimate relations are an accepted right, no matter what kind of relation or how deep and sentimental. Marriage is possible before 18, and marriage is not a nunnery. The sexes of the partners are only a side-kick for voyeurs.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
I'm torn. Half of the time I hated this movie, and half the time I
loved it. Its true that some of the acting is really poor. sometimes
the plot seemed a little stretched, and sometimes the cinematography is
bad. But the rest of the time it seems simply honest, raw, and real.
This movie is like the dorky kid in high school who is sincerely into
Dungeons and Dragons, and everyone thinks that he's pathetic, but he
doesn't know why, because he's just doing what he thinks is fun.
The movie does seem to take the standpoint that a relationship between a fifteen year old, and a twenty nine year old is wrong. It does indeed look on a drastic age difference in a relationship in a favorable light. But to me it was just an honest, almost voyeuristic look at two boys in love.
It takes an open-mind to enjoy this movie, not only about relationships between two people of a drastically different age, but also about filmic technique, and story telling.
Realistically, it is not exactly uncommon for adults (especially males)
to be physically attracted to someone who is young, even below the age
of consent. Someone who has just come into full physical development,
someone who is fresh, lean, and taut, can be pretty exciting eye candy
for more people than government and cultural leaders would like to
admit -- and it's also a far cry from pedophilia (key term being "full
physical development"). But with this uncomfortable reality check
should come another -- if you actually have a conversation with a
15-year-old for more than three minutes, you should realize why it's
completely inappropriate to date one.
This film seems to be nothing more than a justification for such a relationship. And within this justification is one embarrassing scenario after another. The 29-year-old Eban character is completely infatuated with 15-year-old Charley, and Eban woos in a variety of ways that could only be construed as awkward and downright creepy (this is not helped by the amateur dialogue pauses and the poor acting performance of Brent Fellows). Even the writing and presentation of many of the scenes intended to move the film's audiences are incredibly juvenile, something an adolescent might take seriously beyond an idle daydream.
...which brings me to another point. The controversial message of the film has one especially glaring contradiction. If the film is trying to open the minds of its audiences, to break down the seemingly arbitrary barriers of age in the name of love, it actually ends up underscoring the inappropriateness of a relationship involving an adolescent and an adult. Maybe this was all intended by writer/director James Bolton, which would add an interesting dimension to the film, but judging by the places he takes us, I somehow doubt it. At one point in the film Eban declares, "I like younger people" -- it is made clear that his attractions are exclusive to adolescent males. If Eban discovers the spirit that love come before all else, in the face of all adversity, and that this is a good thing, one can't help but wonder what happens to the magical relationship when Charlie passes into adulthood. And this is how the futility and inappropriateness of the relationship is inadvertently revealed. Most importantly, one should remember, as physically developed as a 15-year-old may be (i.e. "grass on the field"), there is no 15-year-old, no matter how bright and on what level of natural genius, that has reached an acceptably sane degree of emotional development. But it is also clear that the population of adult men and women who do not see this in their pursuits of adolescents have severe emotional blocks of their own.
All that said, my one extra star is meant to applaud the acting performances of both Giovanni Andrade, playing Charlie (whose natural talent was miles ahead of Brent Fellows (Eban)), and Ron Upton, who despite a lack of appearances played Eban's father with an acting professionalism and skill not to be seen elsewhere in the film.
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