One Man, Two Timelines
Christophe Charrier’s “Boys” follows one man through two timelines, decades apart in a gripping and compassionate study of first love and the pain of loss. We first meet Jonas (Felix Maritaud) in the present and we see that he is not having an easy time. He seems to have a knack for starting fights at the local gay bar, and his boyfriend has had enough of his infidelity and alcohol fueled behavior. He had a traumatic incident in his past and we go back to 1997, where Jonas (Nicolas Bauwens) meets Nathan (Tommy Lee Baik), a rebellious new student who will become the goal of Jonas’ lust. Jonas and Nathan go on a date not knowing that it will change their lives forever. Charrier teases out the details in this searing mystery.
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. This is a haunting drama that really begins when in a bar, a sympathetic female cop recognizes him as a former classmate, and Jonas is taken 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 moves on two parallel tracks as we follow his high school romance and watch his adult life disintegrate before his eyes. We soon realize how strongly Jonas 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 and emotionally charged drama that ended a bit too quickly for me. I would have liked to spend a little more time exploring Jonas’s feelings in both timelines after the big reveal and before the final scene but this was a film made for TV and had time constraints. We do see how quickly life can take an unexpected turn. One other problem I had is that even though the entire cast is excellent, Jonas, Nathan, and their classmates are way too old to be ninth graders.