'Boys State' on Apple TV+ on August 14th, 2020.
'Boys State' is one of those films you’re immediately entranced by due to its potent and politically charged unscripted content. The documentary, produced by A24, follows a few of the 1100 boys attending the week-long leadership program in which they form and elect a mock state government. As the week begins and the boys are shuttled to the State Capitol in Austin, the energy is palpable in each of their desires to begin running for office. Even within the short program, the boys’ maturity and understanding of the implications of running for office grow substantially. Being set in Texas provides for an even more interesting commentary due to its mixed demographics. Steven Garza, one of the boys running for Governor and the most inspiring boy that the film follows, notes, “Texas is a perfect example of America; a melting pot of cultures and people.”
Part of the allure of this film is how the boys bring their own backgrounds and contrasting viewpoints into their strategy, debates, and speeches, mirroring the difficulties of the American electoral process. The directors, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, capture these dramatic moments and craft them into an emotional and energetic narrative. In revealing his own opinions, Rob chillingly states that, “Sometimes you can’t win on what you believe in your heart. You can’t win on a minority opinion in a democracy.” So the new parties collide and the final battle becomes altruistic unity versus a divisive smear campaign. The implications of the outcome again lead the viewer to challenge their own views and understanding of how the government functions today.
To see these soon-to-be-adults as potential leaders of America is alarming yet inspiring and hopeful. While there is an accompanying Girls State, the problems that arise from a dominant male delegation highlight the strong history of masculinity in holding power in multiple facets of society, not just politics. BOYS STATE will stay with you well after it’s over and force you to ask yourself how this concentrated week can translate into effective change and affect the future of politics. Find it on Apple TV+ August 14th.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Nicholas Ruhrkraut (Contributor) lives in New York City but is a Midwestern boy at heart. He loves discussing everything film on his podcast "Oscar Wild," cooking and baking at home, reading, and traveling.
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