No Laughing Matter (Film Thoughts: Funny Boy)

Deepa Mehta’s ‘Funny Boy’ is Canada’s entry to the Oscars Foreign Language film category (Post script: It was rejected by the Academy because English is spoken in the film for more than half the running time) and it is good to see the film streaming on Netflix where it can capture a wide audience. It is a noteworthy film on paper, based on a best selling novel about a gay nan growing up in Sri Lanka during the country’s civil war unrest. He is also Tamil, who have been discriminated against in the country because of ethnic cleansing, so it is kind of a double whammy for Arjie, the main character in the film.

The film is beautifully shot, and is a joy to watch. But most of the characters are cardboard. The actors aren’t given much depth so we get over-the-top melodramatic performances. The political storyline that serves as a backdrop to the coming-of-age story felt half-baked and muddled. I wish the focus was more on Arjie, which was the more interesting narrative here. But this is a story worth telling.

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