Searching for a Dad
The story of Nick, a disillusioned teenager, is the subject of “Pretty Boy”, a Danish film, originally made in 1993 and now available on DVD. Nick has missed opportunities for a happy life and falls in with a group of thieves and hustlers while looking for a father figure. “Pretty Boy” takes a look at the sordid world of male prostitution and anonymous gay sex as well as the theme of betrayal of trust. Nick suffers from those he turns to for love and help. This is not a pretty movie as it deals with some very ugly aspects of society.
Nick, at thirteen years old, has no father and he has grown tired of living with his mother who is more interested in casual sex than her son. He wants to belong but feels he has no place in his mother’s life. He leaves for Copenhagen where he sees an attack on a man in a public bathroom and somehow manages to find the man’s wallet and returns it to him. Ralph, the victim, a professor of astronomy and Nick discover common interests and Nick moves in with him until Ralph decides he prefers a heterosexual lifestyle. Nick thought he had found the father he was looking for but finds himself alone once again.
Nick then takes up with the same gang that abused Ralph and meets the gang’s broker, an older man named Max. Again he finds a father figure but when the gang double-crosses Max and he is arrested Nick is again alone and forced to live with the group. Nick, however, has not lost his affection for Ralph and this brings about a tragic end. Nick fell for Rene, a female, who dresses as a male, and their romance becomes troubled because of Nick’s old feelings for Ralph.
The film shows us the dark world of hustling and thievery but it never really satisfies because the director loses grip of what he is trying to say. It certainly makes us aware of the closed little world of casual violence and prostitution but is repels a little too much. We do not get to Nick as we should but, on the other hand, the film does deal with a subject that many filmmakers would not touch. The lack of perspective by director Carsten Sonder hurts the film and it becomes heavy. Nevertheless this is an interesting look at a world which we do not often see depicted cinematically.