Program 29: Boys (Jonas)
Directed by Christophe Charrier
Fifteen-year-old Jonas sits in a dark car playing Tetris on his Game Boy. Out of the darkness a terrifying scene unfolds. This time it’s just a nightmarish vision, but clearly something terrible has happened to traumatize Jonas.
Boys (Jonas) is a mystery told in two separate timelines. In the first, it’s 1997 and Jonas is entering 9th grade. A new boy in school immediately catches his eye. Perhaps it’s the bad-boy scar on his cheek or his devil-may-care attitude, but Jonas is smitten. The two boys quickly become friends and before long are skipping class to kiss in an empty gymnasium.
In the film’s other timeline, it’s 2015 and the excitement of a teenager in love has been replaced with the sorrow of a man who can’t escape the past. The adult version of Jonas (Félix Maritaud, outstanding in this year’s sexually graphic Sauvage and last year’s ImageOut favorite BPM) is a broken man. His boyfriend has thrown him out for cheating on him a few too many times, and he’s been arrested for getting into a fight at Boys, a local gay bar. There’s something about the bar that seems to set him off. He meanders through life still carrying that same old Game Boy, trying to fill a hole that can’t be filled. So what happened to turn this innocent teenager into the sad, angry man that we see now?
Boys (Jonas) is an engrossing mystery that will keep you guessing from the first minute to the last. As it moves back and forth between its two timelines, the film succeeds as both a sweet coming-of-age love story and a dark suspense thriller. As these two perfectly-told stories intertwine, it makes for a totally unique and truly special cinematic experience.
— Stephen K. Weisenreder