Review: Two Little Boys
Updated: Sep 30, 2022
A boy's love for his closeted bully drives him into an unconventional road to confession and its consequences.
When exploring the myriad facets of being gay in a heteronormative world, we often talk about the hatred and judgement that comes from society. The much more complex and difficult topic to really address is the hatred and judgement that comes from within. In his attempt to navigate this painfully incendiary topic, writer/director Farbod Khoshtinat constructs a short film experience that envelops the audience in the fear, the confusion, the anger and the pain of a person denying a fundamental part of who they are and the emotional (and physical) damage it causes.
Opening amid our two central characters preparing for what both know will be an explosive confrontation, we are introduced to Josh (portrayed with a unique blend of vulnerability and steely resolve by Trace Talbot) and to Tyler, whose character is shepherded with menacing intensity by Asa Germann. Tyler is a much more imposing presence than the slight frame of Josh putting us on edge and in fear of Josh’s safety from the opening moments of the film.
As the two characters collide, we realise that we are dealing with allegations and consequences that could be potentially life changing for them both. This takes the form of a well-worn dynamic of a bigger, stronger bully and his friend picking on the smaller, weaker kid for being different. At the heart of this conflict, however, is something far more tragic, which ultimately constitutes the heart of the story – someone trying their hardest to reach someone that they love. As the film progresses and Josh reveals the basis of the relationship between them and why, despite the horrific treatment he receives, he refuses to give up on the person that Tyler is trying so hard to bury.
This film is essentially a two-way conflict and as such is heavily reliant on Trace Talbot and Asa Germann’s performances. Jordan Kyle as Tyler’s co-bully Sam does well with the conflicted ally role he is given to play, but the crux of the drama rests on the character dynamic that Germann and Talbot commit to. Their absolute investment in this heart-breaking battle for Tyler’s soul pays off with two incredibly powerful performances that refuse to allow us to close our eyes to the gut-wrenching drama that unfolds.
Backing up the phenomenal performances of the film’s cast is a display of film craft that is as subtle as it is fantastic. Director of Photography Sam Chatterjee captures key shots that let us peer into the souls of the characters. The use of light and shadow is expertly deployed, highlighting moments of danger, decision or of the truth being dragged kicking and screaming into harsh and unrelenting light. An aspect of the filmmaking that deserves special mention, however, is the sound mix of Khoshtinat and Sepehr Mikaeilian (pulling double duties as the film's producer), whose masterful command of the atmospheric sound punctuates the visuals and performances in ways all too rarely seen, particularly in short film.
Everything about the construction and execution of this film pulls you mercilessly between a dreamlike state and aggressive and visceral hyper reality. There is also use of home movie footage, which underpins the tragic nature of the story and speaks directly to its themes. Ultimately, Farbod Khoshtinat combines all these disparate elements flawlessly and gives us an unflinching look at gay self-hatred without, at any time, relinquishing the presence of love. This film is a masterful accomplishment by both cast and crew, whose contributions make this film as important as it is devastating.
Studio: Farbod Khoshtinat | Year: 2020 | Genre: Drama | Duration: 13 Mins | Suitability: Mature (Distressing scenes)
Director: Farbod Khoshtinat | Producer: Sepehr Mikaeilian | Writer: Farbod Khoshtinat
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