CIFF Review: Boys Are Us


[Flixist will be attending the 48th Chicago International Film Festival over the next few weeks. Be sure to follow along as we bring you coverage from the longest-running competitive international film festival in the country. You can easily keep track of the coverage here.]

Teenage girls are evil. This isn’t hyperbole or an exaggeration- it’s basically fact. These days, our lives are easily accessible through the internet, whether they’re through social networks like Facebook, dating websites like OKCupid, or various personal blog sites. Now then, imagine a scenario where an evil teenage girl utilizes the power of the internet to terrorize unsuspecting, hopelessly romantic boys.

Teenage girls are scary.

Boys Are Us
Director: Peter Luisi
Rating: TBD
Country: Switzerland

Hurt by some unknown event by a boy named Andy, 16 year-old Mia (Joelle Witschi) turns to cutting herself and condemning all boys over her pain. Her older sister Laura (Deleila Piasko) comforts her in the way only older sisters could- plotting revenge on boys by preying on an unsuspecting boy randomly chosen on an OKCupid-esque dating website. However, not all is as it seems as the film mirrors the same scenarios with three different boys sharing the same name (Nicola Perot, Rafael Moergeli, Peter Girsberger), crafting a labyrinth-like puzzle that confuses both reality and the viewers.

Instead of simply shooting a romantic revenge film, director Peter Luisi decided to take artistic license by having three actors play Timo, the unfortunate chosen one. As the film plays out, certain scenarios, such as Mia’s and Timo’s first date, are played out in mostly the same way, albeit with a different actor and slightly expanded upon scenes. While it was a good experimental shift for the film, all it accomplishes is confusion.

It doesn’t help that, despite looking physically different from one another, each of the “Timos” share the same traits, interests, objects, etc. Thematically, the question is raised whether two people who were raised and grew up with the same variables and factors would respond the exact same way to an event. But by the time the question is actually put into action in the final minutes of the film, it’s too late and far too gone.

In an attempt to add a thematic twist, Boys Are Us ends up looking like it tried too hard to add a level of depth. I enjoyed and admired the effort, but it ended up doing more harm than good. Honestly, if Boys Are Us stuck to a more traditional storyline, then I might have enjoyed it more. I’m all about experimental techniques, especially when it comes to storytelling and cinematography, but the decisions made for this film just backfired. 

Boys Are Us is a testament that online dating and/or teenage girls can’t be trusted. In all seriousness, though, it’s a somewhat light film that attempted to add depth by including a puzzling, triple mirror of scenarios that leaves more questions than answers. However, unlike other well-plotted films, the questions you’re left asking aren’t the type you’ll even care to answer.