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Dream Boy
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Reviews & Ratings for
Dream Boy More at IMDbPro »

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65 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

This great American Movie deserves a major release

Author: endecottp from United States
12 June 2008

Wow! What a nice surprise. Saw this gem at Newfest film festival in NYC June 12-08. Was drawn in from the very first moment. The film takes place in rural Louisiana in the mid 20th century. The film has a quiet intensity and power, is beautifully paced with excellent attention to detail, which gives it a very genuine feel. There is a simplicity and sparsity to the film that makes it feel like classic Americana, like the Last Picture Show, Hud or East of Eden or a Eudora Welty story. The two actors Stephan Bender and Maximillian Roeg that play the teenage boys are outstanding and should have very fruitful careers after this film. They give beautifully controlled nuanced performances that give the characters an honesty and depth. Diana Scarwid plays one of the boy's mother and is amazing. This actress is really underused in films and her performance here is a powerhouse and should be nominated for a best supporting Oscar. The singer Rickie Lee Jones plays the other boys mother and in a small part creates a memorable and touching character.Don't want to give too much away about the plot but the center of the story is about two teenage boys. One who just moves into town and the friendship that develops as they gravitate to one another. Keep an eye out for this film, it is a sleeper and true jewel.

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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Can active and passive roles define sexual identity?

Author: Arcadio Bolanos from Peru
20 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dream Boy (2008) Rural dynamics can be tough… especially for those who have a hard time adapting to it. That's what happens with newcomer Nathan. And in the process or readjusting to this new environment he finds out there is one boy he can trust: Roy.

Is Nathan just a harmless and defenseless kid that seeks out protection? Or is he a very troubled boy, haunted by traumatic events that he never dares to share? Two elements are made obvious in the movie. One: the devastating effects of father on son incest. Two: the even more catastrophic consequences of excessive passivity. Nathan, just like his mother, is of a very submissive nature.

Some of the most classic psychoanalytic theories associate submissive-passive behavior with the figure of the abject. Abject is understood as the vilest and lowest position conceivable. It is of course imputed to male on male homosexual intercourse. What remains of interest about this theory, though, is that the abject works in terms of passivity. The male who allows himself to be penetrated is then the vilest and lowest; penetration is understood as the worst of the worst. But even these theories, in all their mighty psychological mumble jumble, seem to confuse the active position with the heterosexual identity. As a result, the straight guy who happens to "top" a gay guy can still brag about it, something he could never even disclose publicly if he had chosen to be the one in the passive position. This, of course, goes to all lengths, it can create hierarchies (for example, who penetrates who in jail), it can serve as an excuse for gay intercourse while maintaining a heterosexual façade, etc.

Throughout the film problems are avoided as long as Roy remains in his active position. Roy is the leader of a group of boys and he messes around with a girl, up until this point he could still claim he is straight despite his sexual encounters with Nathan. But when he assumes a more passive position regarding Nathan everything crumbles to pieces and tragedy ensues. When his friends catch him off guard practicing oral sex to Nathan he loses all power and authority. And because of that, his friends are now enabled to partake in abuses they might have not considered before. Consequently, one of Roy's friends will feel encouraged to rape Nathan and then to attack him violently and brutally.

There is also an important approach to Jacques Lacan's concept of symbolic death. There is an in-between place. There is an impasse between symbolic death and actual (real) death. Perhaps James Bolton correlates passivity with death. Or perhaps the film simply imbricates the repercussions of real death versus the significance and emotional strength involved in symbolic death.

"Dream Boy" has a very sad and touching end. It does give conclusion to the premises established since the opening shots. And moreover, it makes the viewer realize how deeply human and fragile the protagonists are. Bolton's bold narrative surpasses the novel's qualities and delivers a stunningly beautiful film.

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and underrated film

Author: Figaro14 from Chicago
16 February 2010

I began watching the film with mild interest and very quickly was drawn into the quiet intensity of the film. One must avoid any discussion of specific plot elements, which would ultimately spoil the experience of the film. It is NOT as some have called it, a "Brokeback Mountain" about teenagers. It is different. It is unique. It is beautiful photographed, sensitively told and atmospheric. I was especially impressed with the performances of Stephan Bender as Nathan and Max Roeg as Roy. While I had no idea what the exact outcome of the film would be, there is a "foreboding" that overshadows the entire story; You get clues along the way that "something is wrong." But the final 20 minutes or so will probably really surprise you. There is much more going on here that can be easily summarized in a user review or with a catch line that describes the plot's formula. I think it's the type of film that will provoke a great deal of discussion and it deserved to be released on DVD.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Ambitous, low-key gay love story

Author: preppy-3 from United States
23 May 2011

Shy teenager Nathan (Stephen Bender) moves into the deep South with his parents. Right next door to him is teenager Roy (Max Roeg) who is out-going and friendly. They form a friendship which quickly turns into a physical relationship. Naturally they can't tell anybody. Half way through things about Nathan become clearer--and more disturbing--and the movie gets dark.

I read the book years ago and loved it but I hated the ending cause it's so ambiguous. I bought this movie cautiously because I didn't think it could be as good as the book and I was curious HOW they would end it. Well the movie IS as good as the book. It's low-key but the book was too. Bender and Roeg perfectly play two teenage boys in love--you can see the confusion and passion in their faces. The sex scenes are very tastefully done (nothing remotely graphic) and these two are so obviously not teens it's not disturbing to watch. I also like how their kissing and having sex is treated so casually--as it should. It (sort of) retains the ambiguous ending of the book. Like I said I hated that ending but I'm glad the movie didn't change it. All the acting is good--Roeg especially. He has the wonderful actress Theresa Russell as his mom and obviously inherited her acting abilities. There's some beautiful cinematography and a good music score too. Low-key and somewhat disturbing but effective. I give it a 7.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Intensely Powerful & Genuine

Author: akeith106 from United States
9 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Set in what appears to be the 1970s, this film is a powerful portrayal of 2 teenagers who seem to gravitate towards each other and develop a close bond. There is a sense of mystery overshadowing the storytelling that there are problems at home for one of the boys, which seems to push them closer together. Their friendship develops into a budding relationship. The last 20-25 minutes of the film was shocking to me, and left me wondering what the actual outcome was.

Overall, this is an amazing piece of storytelling that has not gotten the credit that it deserves. It is beautifully shot in a location that screams Americana. I would highly recommend seeing this film, even if the subject matter is a bit risqué for your liking.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Reality and Dreams and Where They Intersect

Author: gradyharp from United States
27 August 2010

Back in 1995 Jim Grimsley published DREAM BOY, the second novel of his continuing examination of the coming of age in the South and followed by the equally popular COMFORT AND JOY, BOULEVARD, FORGIVENESS, MY DROWNING etc. It took many years of for James Bolton ('Eban & Charley', 'The Graffiti Artist') to decide to adapt this story to the screen, and while Bolton elected to replace much of the lyricism of Grimsley's prose with extended periods of non-verbal communication in the screenplay, the story of two high school kids coming to grips with a mutual attraction in the dank repressive aura of the South manages to still come through intact.

Nathan (Stephen Bender) is a quiet, reclusive sophomore in high school who is settling in to yet another move by his alcoholic, Bible-pounding, abusive father (Thomas Jay Ryan) and his sympathetic mother (Diana Scarwid). Next door lives handsome jock Roy (Maximillian Roeg) who befriends Nathan, shares homework, and when he is not with his girlfriend, offers Nathan rides in the school bus he drives. Exchanges of glances and the growth of mutual attraction between the boys lead to a very private but sincere physical relationship: Nathan does not share with Roy that he has suffered sexual abuse from his father. Roy and his buddies - Burke (a very promising Randy Wayne) and Randy (Owen Beckman) - begin to join the boys on swimming gigs and finally a camping trip that includes visitation of an old deserted and possibly haunted plantation house. What happens in this mysterious place provides the climax of the story - a brutal surprise ending that then transports the film into another dimension - a region the viewer must decide is satisfying or not.

There are some fine moments in this little low budget movie and the presence of Maximillian Roeg, Diana Scarwid, and Randy Wayne lifts the cast to a higher level of competence. Whether or not the viewer is willing to go along with the ending will make the vote for or against the film. Bolton does have a fine touch with stories about the coming out of young men in his films and his ability to capture the Gothic atmosphere of the South is solid.

Grady Harp

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Near perfect depiction of young, inarticulate love

Author: timothyjasonarnold from United States
18 September 2011

People watch movies for different reasons. Some people like an elaborate, fast-paced plot. Others enjoy the visual and audio experience. I am the kind of movie watcher who enjoys a well executed and consistent tone and mood. In "Dream Boy," the mood is both melancholy and sweet and there is a constant, if not always apparent, hint of anxiety and apprehension that builds throughout the movie. Capturing a mood is very difficult, and it relies on a number of factors including acting, cinematography, and music. While the acting of the supporting cast in "Dream Boy" can be somewhat inconsistent, the acting of the two main characters, Roy (Max Roeg) and Nathan (Stephan Bender), is very strong. I was particularly impressed with Bender whose performance reminds me of Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious." While it is true that the awkward, inarticulate teenager is well-trod territory in gay cinema, I've never seen the role acted so flawlessly. I was completely convinced that Bender was Nathan. Here we have a rare example of the kind of role that doesn't seem "acted" at all; it's as if Bender embodies the character. Sadly, I think actors with roles that are over-the-top, histrionic, and melodramatic often get the most praise, but it seems equally if not more difficult to portray a shy, introverted character, and the actors who really nail these roles often don't get the recognition they deserve (re: Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain). I've read some criticism that Bender's performance was "wooden," and it strikes me that if you were not an awkward, inarticulate teenager you might not be able to identify with the performance, but if you were the kind of kid who stayed inside most of the day you will probably find the portrayal of your former self incredibly accurate and moving.

There is a lot of attention paid to subtle, non-verbal forms of communication - glances, stares, half-smiles, physical contact - all of which create a much more realistic depiction of young, gay love than the more chatty gay coming-of-age movies that I'm used to seeing. All of that being said, I understand the disappointment with the ambiguous denouement, but plots are relatively tangential for me. If the actors and director manage to depict a convincing mood, then that is all I need to be satisfied, and they have certainly done that with "Dream Boy."

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Movie fine until last 15 minutes (contains spoiler.)

Author: didier-20 from london
8 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is fine until the last 15 minutes.

Some people here have said that the film could never capture the subtleties of the book. That may be so but the film does stand on it's own merit...until the very end.

I found the last fifteen minutes absurd and a difficult swallow. (No pun intended.)

Are we really to believe that Ray is willing to risk everything for a blow job in close proximity to his very straight and butch comrades ?

Are we really being compelled to believe that Nathan, who has obviously suffered sexual abuse from his father now dies whilst being raped by one of Ray's butch friends. Sorry, but it looks all too ridiculous on film.

Then the ending is fudged. Do they leave the body in the house undiscovered ? Did they show it to the father ? Did anybody find out ? Does Ray realize his blow-job has cost his lover Nathan his life as well as make his straight buddy a raping murderer ?

Do we assume it's Nathan's ghost that haunts Roy in the final sequence or that everything is back to normal and nothing actually happened ?

It all gets a bit Twin-Peaks at best with a big emphasis on the subject of being haunted, very muddled and confused and unbelievable for everybody else.

That's a shame as it had a thing going for it for the first 3/4s of the movie.

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23 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

After-school-special for gay teens ends with clichéd, homophobia

Author: Adam Rosenberg from United States
24 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If only I were a teen today, I'd be all over this mess of a gay romance fantasy thriller. The two leads are to-die-for cute, and the tons of romantic eyes, passionate looks, making out, and simulated sex almost make up for their somewhat stiff acting and the stilted direction. It's a queer Tiger-beat delight! With some social service messages about repressed, incestuous hypocritical Christian fundamentalist fathers, homophobic teen friends (all this stems, of course, from repressed homosexual desires and jealousy), until the last act it seems a wholesome, sexy fun, more thrilling for it's gay romantic idyll, than believability or gripping plot.

Unfortunately, in act four the plot takes a turn for the worse, morphs into southern Gothic supernatural thriller, and enacts classic homophobia: gay love can't be show without being punished horribly, in this case with rape and murder. Topping this off with a ghostly eternal love ending is the kind of red dye number 2 maraschino cherry only a teen could possibly swallow -- and it still wouldn't be good for him.

I encourage those video savants out there to edit this down to a festive mix of the romance, love, and bootie scenes, preferably as background for parties and gay bars.

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Missed opportunity

Author: foxc-2 from Canada
16 May 2011

I'm a gay man so I can speak with some credibility about the portrayal of the main characters in this film. There is no chemistry portrayed here and although the leads are cute and the situations realistic, for the most part (teenagers take every moment for personal connections no matter how inappropriate or imprudent they may be) we are left with a coming-of-age story that while sweet and tender against all apparent odds is betrayed by a thin-as-paper, muddled plot that is formulaic and unsatisfying. The adults are cardboard and the parallelism with "Brokeback Mountain", hyped on the cover, are obvious and contrived. Nowhere do we get the deeply religious/conservative milieu of the 70's Deep South in which the primal and quite beautiful emotional drive of these two boys is cast, beyond episodic church scenes with flatulent pastoral murmurings. So much could've been made of the story but it's a wasted effort I'm afraid.

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