It’s been 50 years since the first stage-to-film adaptation of The Boys in the Band, and the world’s a different place—or so you’d hope. Netflix’s adaptation of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking work is less about how far we’ve come and more about where, precisely, we’ve come from. A group of friends (“six tired screaming fairy queens and one anxious queer”) gather for a party. Drinks flow, inhibitions are lowered, and a game devised by host-with-the-most (debt, at least), Michael (Jim Parsons), has them all confronting things they’ve long elected to avoid.

The film is delightfully nostalgic (the clothes! the hair! the music!). For one shining moment, as the group dance on the balcony, the delight on their faces is almost tangible. It isn’t to be. Each character is wrapped up in their neuroses imposed on them by the world outside the apartment door. For anyone who’s seen the 1970 film, there’s little new here – this is a faithful homage to the original production. The cast play off each other with a natural ease, no doubt born out of performing these roles together for weeks on stage.

Parsons shines as the social butterfly turned bitter host, his acerbic delivery a potent contrast to Zachary Quinto’s smooth-as-velvet Harold. Conversation drifts from fond to flirtatious to fatal as the group tear each other, and themselves, apart. It begs the question of why people who resent each other – or each others’ actions – this much would spend any time together at all. The answer is in the subtle nuances portrayed by the cast, their instinctive touches making the bond these characters share something that can be believed in.

With a love for the title’s enduring legacy at its core, The Boys in the Band is a time-honoured tribute to a groundbreaking play, breathing fresh life into what’s possible “if we could just not hate ourselves so much.”



CAST: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, Tuc Watkins

DIRECTOR: Joe Mantello

WRITERS: Mart Crowley, Ned Martel

SYNOPSIS: At a birthday party in 1968 New York, a surprise guest and a drunken game leave seven gay friends reckoning with unspoken feelings and buried truths.