Dream Boy Movie Review
Nathan (Bender) is a new kid in a rural town, living with his deeply religious parents (Scarwid and Ryan). He catches the eye of his neighbour Roy (Roeg), a classmate who helps him adjust to his new school, and while doing homework together they discover a mutual attraction, which they of course have to keep hidden in such a church-going community. And there are other issues in Nathan's life, including parental abuse and bullying from two of Roy's friends (Wayne and Beckman).
The film builds an almost unbearably tense atmosphere, as we begin to realise that none of this can end well. Scenes are underscored with a foreboding tone, giving a dark slant to the beautiful camera work and relaxed performances. The growing relationship between Nathan and Roy is played in a slow, tender way that's sensitive, tenuous and surprisingly sweet, and yet trouble is brewing all around them.
Roeg (son of Nicolas Roeg and Theresa Russell) has an especially strong screen presence, and develops a delicate chemistry with Bender that's realistically grounded. Both actors underplay their roles, and the script gives them few words to say, so we're left to infer most of the emotion and draw what we can from the potent themes. Meanwhile, the solid adult cast members slightly over-egg their scenes, which makes it feel like a somewhat preachy TV movie looking at the link between religion, child abuse and homophobic violence.
The lush, inviting filmmaking style helps overcome this, as does the way the story delves into extremely dark places. It's also edited in a gentle way that quietly carries us through the events even as things become increasingly nasty and bleak. In the end, there seems to be a bit of a struggle to wrestle both a positive conclusion and a point to it all. But these are vitally important issues, and the film addresses them in an unusually honest way that makes it well worth a look.