The film starts on a train and ends on a train 80 minutes later. Pretty Boy’s eighty minutes between train scenes is the outline for a longer movie that would suck too. The user comment on imdb (where I go to look up the actors and crew while I write reviews) says just this: “terrible.”
The stunningly beautiful Christian Tafdrup plays Nick, a 13 year old run away in Denmark. As happens in most of the movies of this kind where a young run away becomes a rent boy, hustler, or prostitute depending on your preference for noun, Nick begins his new life in a train station. As luck would have it, he first finds a man who allows Nick to live with him; as more luck would have it, Rami Nathan Sverdlin is an astronomer, astronomy being Nick’s great love. Nick has to leave this ad hoc foster home in a hurry when the man’s wife returns home. Nick then finds comfort in the home of a pawnbroker who does business with the hustlers who steel from homes or from their clients. This ad hoc foster home is busted up when the hustlers drop a couple of kroner so that the pawnbroker is arrested for dealing in stolen goods. Then Nick moves in with the hustlers, a group led by a girl playing a boy. He falls for the girl/boy and they strike up a relationship. Then the movie takes a bizarre turn; the hustlers hatch a rapid and senseless plan to get revenge for how the astronomer, Max, treated him. They gang up on him in the observatory and kill him by accident. Nick runs back to the train station, boards a train and pants. Then the credits roll.
As I said in the first paragraph, even if the middle had been more fleshed out, it wouldn’t have been a good movie. No one, even Nick whose looks are disarming, is sympathetic. This in itself doesn’t make for a bad film (I argue that no one in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover is sympathetic, yet it is still a good movie—for those of us who can handle the oddity that is Peter Greenaway’s style); however, if you aren’t going to have anyone sympathetic, at least have a message or something that can be grasped. Otherwise you are left apathetic to the fate of everyone in the film.
For a host of reasons (only one of them prurient), I’ve watched some fringe gay movies, of which this is the only one listed in Epinions. All but Pretty Boy have been set in Prague and have covered the sex trade of minors (almost exclusively to wealthy Germans, which is interesting in its own right, but a digression from this film). Pretty Boy still shares the same notion of teens as sex workers. Ordinarily, you would look at a young boy or girl in that situation as immediately sympathetic; however, they are never presented that way in these films. Each of these films presents the latest prostitute as a runaway who really isn’t running away from anything all that bad. Nick’s mother is a slut, but she isn’t neglectful or abusive, just loose. Nick has no real reason to run to Copenhagen and start a life in the oldest profession. In Britain this would be considered a rather extreme form of slumming.
This leaves us with the question of why he is there in the first place. The film offers no reasonable explanation. In the Czech movies, at least you could point to a level of social anomie that left young men feeling helpless and wanting to do something for cash that didn’t involve too much violence. But Nick is Danish and the anomie that might be left over in Eastern Europe isn’t generally considered part of everyday life in Denmark.
The only conclusion I can come up with is that it is a version of very soft core porn—since there is very little nudity and, despite prostitution being a major theme, only 2 sex acts are even remotely explicit—all of the others happen by implication only.
There is no reason for anyone to want to watch this film. I feel a little grimy for having done so and want my 90 minutes back.
What did you think of this review?