Written by: #MarcelSorza
Neon Boys’ opening voiceover reminds us that some events in life are so momentous, they cause our lives to shift entirely. In our minds, moments before the event and after it are starkly defined. Based on star Jonathan Salazar’s true story, this is an important story of budding romance and heartbreak.
Ricky (Jonathan Salazar) works at a gay nightclub in New York as an erotic dancer. He’s been working there for a while, but one day Ricky comes into work and he's introduced to a new colleague, Shawn (Matty Glitterati Kinkel). Shawn has just come out of prison, and he’s saving up to get his life back on track. Erotic dancing was the only job he could find, and he’s desperate to get back into his young daughter’s life. His ex, Rebecca (Kelsey Denae), is reluctant to let Shawn see their child. As soon as Ricky meets Shawn, he’s immediately attracted to him. Shawn’s never dated a man before, but it’s not before long that sparks begin to fly.
Ricky and Shawn’s story is a worthy tale to commit to screen. The romance is intimate, and the heartbreak is devastating. However, the script doesn’t quite live up to this true story’s potential. This is a dialogue-heavy piece, and unfortunately, the dialogue never feels refined enough. Ricky and Shawn are given clichéd, recycled lines, and every sentence has a slight air of artifice. Thankfully, the writing doesn’t undermine the relationship between Ricky and Shawn. Jonathan Salazar portrays someone falling in love fantastically. When he meets Shawn, he’s bashful and suddenly seems insecure, searching for a sign that Shawn might like him too. It’s in the moments filled with raw emotions, that you genuinely believe in the budding romance between Shawn and Ricky.
Directors A.J Mattioli and Jonathan Salazar contrast the purple neon shades of the nightclub with aerial shots of New York City. This contrast of the concrete jungle and the neon glow of the club grounds the film nicely. Alongside the lovely aerial shots, the soundtrack pops with some great song choices. The film bubbles with New York’s soul, and it’s nice to be immersed in the metropolis.
While Neon Boys is by no means perfect, it was clearly made with a lot of heart. Even though this short film stumbles occasionally, the story at the centre of the film is captivating. If you’re looking for something to watch during Pride month, this short film might be just the ticket.