Leo David (Paolo Rivero) is a washed up director, his last big picture happening over ten years ago, just before the studio he worked for collapsed. Now, he’s been given a chance to work on one more project. But his old producer doesn’t want him to just make any kind of film. She wants to make money, so she tasks Leo to direct a gay indie feature. Leo then begins the arduous process of producing a gay film, which means casting a fresh young face willing to expose himself in front of the camera. With a really tight budget, a couple of difficult actors, and a former lover who keeps bothering him for a role in the film, Leo has a lot of work to do.
It’s hard to decide if Indie Boys is really as self-aware as it makes it out to be. It does acknowledge the sheer cynicism that goes into creating a gay indie film, the pure economics of flesh involved in production. Would be actors are promised fame and fortune in exchange for a little slice of their dignity. Sex is turned into currency, the young stars compromising themselves in a bid to get closer to the supposedly artistic mind behind the film. In the world of the film, everybody’s a liar, the entire industry set up to benefit the person who can tell the biggest lie without being caught. It’s all startlingly frank, and there’s just enough venom in the film’s satire to make it feel somewhat substantial.
And yet the film ends up becoming what it satirizes. In the end, no matter how much the film chastises the industry as a whole, it all goes back to crotch shots and badly shot sex scenes. It doesn’t quite feel right for the film to be ripping on other gay movies while it indulges in the same excesses. Whatever higher ground the film was standing on quickly collapses in an avalanche of exploitation. Perhaps it would have been easier to swallow if the technical package was any better. They could have at least brought a level of artistry to the production, but this is where the movie just utterly fails.
Everything is just poorly staged. The actors seem to keep forgetting about the lapel microphones hidden on their person, and we get scene after scene submerged in the sound of hands hitting microphones. I feel sorry for whoever had to do the sound. Every shot is flat and drab and completely uninteresting. Maybe it’s supposed to be a metacommentary on the general quality of gay films. But as shabby as they are, most gay films look better than this. Performances range from passable to downright awful. Paolo Rivero is watchable enough as our director hero. Everybody else, especially the wannabe actors, are all pretty terrible.
I’d like to say that Indie Boys is a step above your average gay indie film, but I’m not too sure that it is. While the trappings of postmodern thought are there, the film itself can’t escape the shackles of the genre it seeks to lampoon. And the poor quality of the production leaves the film without the authority to judge other films of its ilk. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. There remains something in here that might be worth a second look, but the film’s general shoddiness would discourage anyone from trying it a second time.