Picks and Pans Review: Boys
Want to feel like you're getting old? Boys will do it to you fast. That's because Ryder, 24, is the Older Woman here—she's supposed to be 25—and Haas, now 20 and having long since outgrown his little Amish suit in Witness, plays a besotted Maryland prep school senior eager to chuck his button-down future to be with her. This presumptuous casting is by far the most intriguing aspect of Boys, a brooding wisp of a film that has too little story to tell but takes too much time telling it.
The movie begins with the creepy promise of a preppie The Collector, as Haas rescues an unconscious Ryder after she has been thrown from her horse, smuggles her into his dorm room and removes her boots as delicately as a jeweler repairing a Faberge egg. Soon, though, it's clear that nothing perverse is going on, but rather that Haas is simply a moonstruck youth ("Everything else seems pointless compared with being with you," he tells Ryder). His budding relationship with her—a few kisses and a quick roll in the grass—is just padding between dragged-out flashbacks revealing the troubling secret in Ryder's recent past.
Writer-director Stacy Cochran (My New Gun) based Boys on an eight-page short story by James Salter that proves too slight a tale to sustain the filmmaker's moody vision. Ryder, alternately looking scared and rueful, does what she can with a character punily drawn, but Haas is merely off-puttingly geeky as a rebel without claws. Other talented actors (Chris Cooper and Jessica Harper as Haas's parents, James LeGros and Catherine Keener as Ryder's friends) pass through Boys for a scene or two—en route, one hopes, to bigger parts in better movies. (PG-13)