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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

Review: Boys State (2020)

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Original Review Date: 18 August 2020

Boys State (2020) is a documentary that takes place in Texas where an exercise in local and statewide government brings together 1000 17-year old boys. Here, they form their own political parties, policies, consensus, and ultimately electing one of their own to become state governor, which is the highest office in the American Legion’s educational program that is Boys State.

The subjects that are the driving force in the film’s dizzying and boisterous energy come from a multitude of different backgrounds and political stances. These colorful and endlessly fascinating characters make for an experience that is steeped in both hope and genuine worry for the future of politics in the US.

Bipartisanship brings some of these opposing forces together, but it soon turns ugly once the campaigning begins to elect a Boys State Governor. Lying, smear campaigns, racial prejudice, calls for impeachment (just to make a few), etc. begin to take place, creating eerie similarities to current political hellscapes that constantly occupy our newsfeeds. Our subjects begin to grapple with the moral dilemma of going against their own beliefs in order to gain support and votes, where they quickly admit to appreciating why politicians lie to win, with some even using dirty tactics from past elections as inspiration to take down opponents; some with no remorse whatsoever.

It is incredibly frightening seeing and realizing that a lot of these really smart kids are most certainly going to be the leaders of the future. It’s hopeful and absolutely terrifying all at once. As one subject says about an opponent: “...I think he’s a fantastic politician...but I don’t think a fantastic politician is a compliment either”.

The filmmakers behind Boys State manage to capture the week-long event in all its frantic and thrilling glory with razor-sharp precision. The editing is among the best of the year, giving us a real feel of the anxieties, doubts, and sheer confident energy exhibited by these teenagers determined on being noticed and making a real mark on the world for decades to come. It’s outrageously entertaining filmmaking that will be a common entry on year-end lists.

You can stream Boys State over at Apple TV Plus.

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11 ene 2021

This sounds so good! Definitely next on my list.

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