FILM REVIEW: Boys On Film 23 – ‘Dangerous To Know’

Brian Butler August 2, 2023

Peccadillo Pictures has certainly given us value for money in their latest queer film compilation Boys On Film 23. And there are two shimmering gems in its midst. More on them later.

The sequence opens with My Uncle’s Friend, a tender look back by Vicente Concilio of a time when his father bought a camcorder and incessantly and annoyingly filmed his shy young son, who was coming to terms with his queerness. The boy’s secret affection for a friend of his uncle is accentuated when we learn that the friend died of AIDS a few years after the start of the fim.

Budapest Closed City features Hungarian teenager Peter showing his British friend Adam round the city, depicting a burgeoning love which is unrequited in a mixed-up oppressive world.

In Eden, a restless gay man tours cruising grounds, sauna and dungeons in search of something more than just sex – though he gets plenty of that. It’s moody, largely bereft of dialogue and light, but there are moments of cinematic beauty  when the love-making bodies take on a statuesque look and feel.


Sam Max’s Chaperone is the stand-out gem in this collection, starring Zachary Quinto (a young Spock in the later Star Trek franchise). It is sinister, very very scary and gripping from its opening to its terrifying conclusion. An older  man picks up a young man in his car and takes him to a secluded house – as part of an unspoken and unexplained deal. The boy must dispose of his phone and his house keys. A large amount of money changes hands and leads to a choreographed sex scene. There is at every turn a feeling of impending doom and danger, and so it comes to pass – without explanation. The film will be with you for a long time after viewing. Quinto is absolutely magnetic and mesmerising.

Break Me features a young male Muslim cage fighter, being forced towards an arranged marriage. Secretly he is in love and having a relationship with his male sparring partner. Ravdeep Singh Bajwa is great to watch as the tormented queer hero, merely seeking happiness.

By His Will is another film about the clash of the religious and the secular. Young Jewish student Elisha is in love with classmate Daniel. Parents and Rabbi all realise he is troubled, but as Elisha tells them, he doesn’t feel part of God’s plan for him – a plan he has no control over. His father replies: “Man plans and God laughs”. But without spoiling too much, it’s a little film with a big heart and important storyline about hope and queer love defying the world.

Red Ants Bite completely eluded me. I didn’t understand the storyline or the characters’ trajectory. Set in Tbilisi in Georgia, we follow two black men, who have some kind of queer attraction, but with the added complication that one has an estranged wife and daughter. I have no idea what the ending meant.


The second gem in the collection is Tom Young’s wonderful Jim, which won the audience prize at last year’s Iris Festival. It’s based on the true story of Father Jim, a Catholic priest in London who one night picks up a rent boy, only to discover he is way under age. Their funny, tender encounter is brief and unconsummated. *Spoiler* – two months later, we’re told Simon, the rent boy, is murdered and Father Jim creates a charity for young sex workers. Gary Fannin is moving as the repressed priest who wants “one night for me”, and Cary Ryan is touching as the young man. It gets better at each viewing.


I’ve also seen Hornbeam before. A gay middle-aged man (Daniel Lane, who also writes and produces) sits in his van late at night trying to pick up from a car park. On consecutive nights – a number of them – he picks up the same young man, who says he has split up with his girlfriend. The driver, a gardener, reveals he is married and so the younger accepts their relationship can go no further. But the twist is that said gardener is in fact in a 12-year open relationship with another man. What seemed impossible is now possible – or is it?

And finally, Too Rough is another puzzling film about two young gay lovers, who after a night out end up at the dysfunctional family home of one of them. There’s a dark element of farce in the story of how the secret visitor can escape.

Boys On Film is available on all major platforms and