‘Boys On Film: Cruel Britannia’ DVD review

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Ten short films taking place amongst a teenage house party, a broken down lift in Lambeth, a Scottish household in 1974 and a forgotten and desolate seaside town form Cruel Britannia, the latest anthology from the provocative and critically acclaimed Boys on Film series.

Featuring work from some of the best of British filmmaking talent, this new anthology is a mixed but thoughtful collection of engrossing examples of gay cinema in the UK.

These very different films, ranging in subjects from homosexuality, cross dressing, transgender and unrequited love, are united by three themes:  isolation, ignorance and finally, loneliness. Through tales of misunderstandings, repression, prejudice, fear and heartbreak, the power of Boys on Film lies in its eclectic mix of films, stories and messages which reveal the vulnerability of the human condition, whilst celebrating the strength of men and boys who have been rejected and misunderstood by mainstream society.

While the films do vary greatly in style and quality, some of the strongest films in this anthology are those that deal with surprisingly similar themes, such as: David Ward’s All Over Brazil, a comment on ignorance and fear, starring a pre-The Fades Iain De Caestecker; I Don’t Care, directed by Harry Wootliff, a touching piece about isolation featuring Paloma Faith and Misfits star Iwan Rheon; and Man and Boy, a gritty and violent exploration of the power of rumour and loneliness starring the prolific British actor, Eddie Marsan.

However, as with any collection of art, the films vary in quality, with some of the real gems, such as Faryal’s What You Looking At?! – a tale of two people divided by culture and ignorance brought together by a broken lift – being lost amongst the drama, clichés and two-dimensional characters of Ben Peter’s Downing, a tale of vengeance and teenage excess.

While this anthology is partially a celebration of love between men, Boys on Film also recreates the very real issues that face gay men today, such as violence, prejudice, bullying, judgement and suppression. Although dark at points, overall the subjects in Cruel Britannia are thoughtful, refreshing and delicately handled.

Released on DVD on Monday 28th May by Peccadillo Pictures.

> Buy the DVD on Amazon.

Watch the trailer…