- David Zak
FUNNY BOY: Sweet, hard-hitting, and touching
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
When reading books, I often think, 'this would be a great movie, but it would be impossible to make.' That is not the case for FUNNY BOY, an adaptation of the award-winning book that is both a delightful coming-of-age/coming out story and a hard-hitting look at the civil war between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.
Arjie (played as a kid by the charming Arush Nand and as a young man by Brandon Ingram) knows he enjoys makeup more than cricket early on. Mostly he loves dancing in the unintentionally hilarious community theater staging of THE KING AND I. (I Love, love, love the extremely out-of-tune piano!) The only person who understands him in his traditional culture is his Aunt Radha (the sparkling Agam Darshi). When A shocking act of political violence changes Radha's life, we suspect that the tense co-existence between Tamil and Sinhalese will not hold.
Skipping forward to Arjie's teen years, we watch him repeat his aunt's mistake – falling for someone not in his tribe.
While the coming-out story may be familiar in some ways, it is honest and sexy. The beautiful homes, churches, and schools are always jaw-dropping. That makes the violence that follows even more devastating. Who among us does not feel tension at times from our fellow citizens?
Director Deepa Mehta does a fantastic job of keeping the complicated storyline clear. I appreciated the device of switching the actors who play the child and adolescent Arjie in some scenes. The screenplay by Mehta and the original book writer Shyam Selvadurai is passionate.
FUNNY BOY is a great movie to share with family and friends and probably more gratifying and enlightening than many holiday events.