Issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, harassment and assault are not pertinent to one community or nation. They affect people from all walks of life, religions, ethnicities, and economic status. The film Dream Boy presents a context where a boy’s life is damaged by the constant conflicts with his father, who had traumatized him to the point where he feels isolated from the entire world.
Directed by James Bolton, the movie is a reflection of American society, particularly in the South. There are parts of the United States that are not particularly first world in their mindset, heavily influenced by Evangelical Christianity. The US is divided in two worlds: one of cosmopolitan cities, where people go to follow their dreams, and another ruled by a rural economic model of farming and agriculture.
It’s under this landscape that Nathaniel, the main character played by Stephan Bender, must circulate in. After moving to a small town in Louisiana with his parents, he soon meets Roy, played by Maximilian Roeg. It’s through this relationship that he discovers a new world of interacting with other people and finding the one thing he’s always wanted: love.
From the beginning, this relationship is full of seductive undertones that start with shy flirtations and gazes. As the film progresses, both characters discover each other’s secrets. Our protagonist is suffering from the imminent separation of his parent’s marriage and his father’s overbearing rage that keeps him in the house except to go to church.
At one point father and son clash, revealing the extent of the psychological abuse endured by the main character. It becomes clear that Nathaniel has not been able to develop his identity because of this negative atmosphere. Beyond the romantic love story, the story’s core is about the dogmas and contradictions within an American society that is divided between what the rest of the world sees, Hollywood and big cities, and what happens in small towns, how religion overpowers human will.
Dream Boy captures the difficult road of navigating sexual identity, acceptance, and pride against the secretive reality of abuse. James Bolton brings us a lesson in love and the search for understanding and unconditional love.
Translated by María Suárez