Last night, I climbed atop my mountain of pillows, settled in to watch a movie I had been eager to see for a while. The stage was set for an enjoyable experience: I was receptive, bored, and a little drunk off cheap wine.
Unfortunately, I can be very critical when it comes to movies, and lately, I seem to be a bit blasé. It takes much to get my blood pumping. But this movie, I was going to give my full attention to, as it is the adaptation of one of my favorite, most cherished novels, Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley.
I AM PISSED PEOPLE.
If Ang Lee could turn a few pages of fiction into the beautiful, subtle, moving film such as Brokeback Mountain, then shame on James Bolton. How can someone go wrong with the raw and powerful material that is Jim Grimsely’s Dream Boy ? His movie didn’t even capture a nano cell of the whole organism that is Nathan’s world. First, the attraction between Nathan and Roy is barely believable. Granted, the young actors did a nice job with the fondling, touching, kissing, but aside from that “technical” aspect of their relationship, nothing of the dance transcended to the screen. It was like watching your grandma dance with your brother.
My favorite part of the book is when Nathan is hiding out in the woods by his house, living to the beat of his father’s presence and absence. In the book, you can FEEL Nathan’s confusion, his loneliness and surfacing anger. In the movie, NADA. Very disappointing. A bit lazy, if you ask me.
The secondary characters could have been mannequins propped up against trees. In the novel, from the very beginning, you know Burke’s got some bad mojo about him. The way Nathan watches the ripple of his muscles, feeling the threat of them, the way Burke behaves around Nathan, all that foreshadows a catastrophe. In the movie, those dynamics are not explored. Burke comes off as robotic and glassy-eyed. He goes from finding Roy blowing Nathan, to raping Nathan and hitting him over the head with a piece of chair. Dear God.
And don’t look for any trace of a relationship ( negative or positive ) between Nathan, his clueless mother, and the phantom that is his dad. It simply doesn’t exist in the film. A lot of fleeting glances, hush-hush words, and some big innuendoes, but nothing of major importance comes across.
On a positive note, the two young lads are pretty good. Poor kids, they had to work with what they had, which wasn’t much. Some shots are beautiful, like the trees swaying in the wind as the bus rolls down the road. The boys swimming in the creek is another one. However, it’s not enough to carry the movie.
One thing I did really enjoy was the soundtrack. Damn, without it, I would have stopped the movie before it ended. But the music was mesmerizing.
Bottom line, if I hadn’t read the book, I wouldn’t have been able to connect with the story on any level.
( Throws a tomato. )