Two moments of Jonas's life intertwine, each reflecting the other: in 1995, when he was a secretive teenager, and 18 years later, as an attractive and impulsive thirty-something looking for balance in his life.
Boys (Jonas) is a mystery told in two separate timelines. In the first, it's 1997 and Jonas is entering 9th grade. A new boy in school immediately catches his eye. Perhaps it's the bad-boy scar on his cheek or his devil-may-care attitude, but Jonas is smitten. The two boys quickly become friends and before long are skipping class to kiss in an empty gymnasium. In the film's other timeline, it's 2015 and the excitement of a teenager in love has been replaced with the sorrow of a man who can't escape the past. The adult version of Jonas (Félix Maritaud, outstanding in this year's sexually graphic Sauvage and last year's ImageOut favorite BPM) is a broken man. His boyfriend has thrown him out for cheating on him a few too many times, and he's been arrested for getting into a fight at Boys, a local gay bar. There's something about the bar that seems to set him off. He meanders through life still carrying that same old Game Boy, trying to fill a hole that can't be filled. So what happened ...
Jonas is a clearly troubled 33-year-old gay man who drifts through life listlessly, seemingly haunted by something in his past. As the film opens he's being arrested for some sort of altercation in a gay bar. A sympathetic female cop recognizes him as a former classmate, and Jonas is drawn into memories of high school and meeting Nathan, the boy who would help him discover his sexuality and become his first love.
From there the plot skips between two parallel tracks as we follow his high school romance and watch his adult life disintegrate before his eyes. Soon we come to realize how strongly he clings to his past, until the two timelines meet head on and the event that has shaped his entire life is revealed.
This is a moving, emotionally charged drama, much higher quality than you'd ordinarily expect of a made-for-TV movie. The ending seems a bit rushed and abrupt - we'd like to spend a little more time exploring Jonas's feelings in both timelines after the big reveal and before the sweet-but-sad final scene - but this was likely due to TV time constraints, and in any event serves to demonstrate just how quickly life can take an unexpected turn. My only other complaint is that while the entire cast does an excellent job, Jonas, Nathan, and their classmates are way too old to be ninth graders. They could have easily been made two or three years older without changing a thing in the script; as is, it just looks wrong. The best bet for the English-speaking viewer is to simply assume there's a typo in the subtitles, the boys are really 17, and go from there.
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