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Smukke Dreng 1993
Description: Nickname is a handsome 13-year-old runaway whose find for a family leads him into the arms of male prostitution. While Nick's sexual exploits with strange boys hold his pockets lined with cash, the experience does nothing to preserve his waning innocence. Later enough, he's as hardened as a boy three times his age.
Released: 26 Mar 1993 Director: Carsten Sønder Writers: Carsten Sønder Actors: Christian Tafdrup, Dicte, Rami Nathan Sverdlin, Sune Otterstrøm Genres: Drama
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Smukke Dreng Reviews:

The Danish "Pretty Boy", being made accessible on DVD for the first time 12 years after it's original release, says the storyline of other disillusioned modern teenage youth, this time a 13-year-old male hustler roaming the nocturnal roads of Copenhagen. Supposedly fleeing a dysfunctional home life and spending his nights hoping beds to search a zone to stay, Nickname (Christian Tadfurp) lives a transient and grimly solitary lifestyle as he tries to survive amidst the cold and unwelcoming globe he's entered into.Clearly yearning for a father figure, Nickname grows smitten with one of his middle-age suitors, the carefully closeted Ralph (Stig Hoffmeyer), an Astronomist who shares Nick's fascination with the stars. Ralph may be his possible savior, but when he tremulously kicks him out when his girlfriend returns, Nickname later views the cowardly Ralph with a heartbroken contempt.With nowhere else to turn, he boards with pawn-shop/antiques shop owner Hartvig (Bent Hasselmen) in exchange for support with the business (rather than the usual sexual favors), which Nickname supremely fulfills.However, this environment later gets him involved with an organized gang of adolescent hoodlums and hustlers that frequent Harvig's shop. This nasty Oliver Twist-esquire group create their living by seducing idiosyncratic middle age males with a taste for young blood only to rob them later, taking revenge on the sleazy "solicitors" who won't pay up and selling another stolen stuff to Harvig. Having brushed with them previously at the sleazy train station where he frequently hangs out, Nickname later moves in with the surrogate brood, led by the ruthless Rene (Danish pop star Benedicte W. Madsen), where their nightly escapades give Nickname a taste of the nasty, nihilistic rush he's previously only skimmed upon.Things begin to receive complicated when he falls for Rene, an obvious female guised as a man who leads a rather normal life "off-duty", a complicated romance that becomes more problematic when Nick's old globe begins intruding in... And that's all of this bizarre plot that I really need to give away.The fundamental trouble with "Pretty Boy" is not so much it's occasional over-the-top grotesqurie, it's unavoidably creepy topics or an odd stylistic resemblance to "Diva", but rather it's finished lack of a grip on a "story" that becomes more complicated and rushed then it needs to be, only feeling like other poison-penned rendering of modern-day Copenhagen in a disjunct and very confused form.To be sure, "Pretty Boy" certainly jolts you awake at the begging, with one remarkably brutal act of casual violence as we see a bespectacled, late-30-ish waif of a boy in a train stop bathroom receive a relentless, out-of-nowhere beat down by Rene's gang of teenage hoodlums in front of the oblivious Nick, and it's a definite, if somewhat repellent, grabber to begin off the fittingly bleak tale.The rest of "Pretty Boy", however, is perpetually marred by the filmmakers finished indecisiveness (or, to be more frank, inattention) to his character's inner qualities and outward plight (not only Nick's bewildering, shape-shifting sexual preferences), as well as seeming awfully confused where to take an already over-wrought script that's ultimately just a packed trip lacking a destination.Obviously, a movie that dares to mingle in a globe of kid prostitution and teenage crime is going into territories that even most of the gutsiest filmmakers would fearfully avoid, and perhaps it's only natural that director Carsten Sonder feels a tiny too burdened to be able to propel the storyline past those primary themes or give any perspective. It certainly garnered some instant controversy (though more so for some reportedly graphic nude scenes of young star Tadfurp (who admittedly looks much older), edited from the DVD cut), but that doesn't support mask the film's lack of a central identity, despite copious stories to tell. What is it, a sordid and occasionally bizarre coming-of-age story, a scathing portrayal of callous youthful violence and hedonism or, especially in the last act, a plot-heavy operatic tragedy? In short, all and none at the same time. Ultimately, the movie lives and dies with the actors, and that's where it ultimately fails. It's not so much the performers fault; the film never gives them room to breathe, rarely letting them rise above a remote, somewhat sour blandness.Tadfurp makes a decent debut as the game character, an earnest if somewhat uninspiring performer, but the film never really decides on his Nick: is he just a under-nurtured, well-meaning child that naively gets swept into a life of perpetual debauchery and petty crime in find of a family, or other aloof burnout with some serious underlying pshycological issues? The film seems to toss both traits on the table but neither even begin to gel; serious parts of his life are left fragmented and hopelessly vague, most notably the mutual obsession with Ralph (whose courtship barely plays throughout the film except to give the storyline it's expectedly melodramatic finale) as well as his supposedly poor home life (which now seems to be a rather stable single-parent home, despite his mother's blithe promiscuity. Clearly there's tension underneath that the film barely explores.) Although most of the another actors are given tiny to do (and their portrayals are cute much geared only towards sufficiency and nothing more), the only another supposedly pivotal perf is Madsen as the gender-bending Rene, which the film foolishly tries to pass off the conspicuously feminine star as a cross-dresser who folks would now trust as a boy. Nor do they ever discover if this "practice" is strictly business or a dominant psychological obsession, as it seems to stress nothing about Nick's bizarre sexuality. Although Madsen initially seems slickly confident in a role full of crackling, malevolent potential, Sonder eventually loses interest in her, as Rene becomes other bland plot catalyst by the time she strikes up a romance with Nick, haplessly lacking chemistry with him or the rest of this odd and fatally unfocused misfire.


'Smukke dreng' ('Pretty Boy') is a 1993 Danish movie that is only actually being released on DVD - and in a ver that has eliminated the original degree of nudity. Though it is being marketed as a gay movie and though the storyline deals with male prostitution, there is tiny gay sexual activity and a lot of heterosexual activity. Makes one wonder about the international editing...the storyline should test the original setting! Nickname (Christian Tafdrup) is 13 years old, fatherless, and weary of living with a mother whose active casual sex life takes precedence over her role as a mother. He longs for the sense of belonging (especially for a father) but is made to feel 'in the way' for this mother's lifestyle. He flees to Copenhagen where he observes a gang of young boys abusing an older voyeuristic boy in a public restroom. He manages to receive the man's emptied wallet and appears on his doorstep. The man, Ralph (Stig Hoffmeyer), is a professor of astronomy and when Nickname appears the two search mutual ties in the stars. Nickname moves in and a romance incurs. But when Ralph's girlfriend returns to town, Ralph throws Nickname out and returns to his heterosexual life. Nickname is hurt, as he had found in Ralph the father figure and love he so required and he continues to stalk him.On his own, Nickname falls in with the gang he first encountered in the restroom. They are all hustlers his age and older who also steal valuables and broker them with an older boy Maximum (Rami Nathan Sverdlin), a mate to the children but not gay. Though Nickname at first lives in the commune with the gang (one of whom is a woman Rene - Benedicte W. Madsen or 'Dicte' as she is known in the pop melody field - with whom he bonds. But Maximum invites Nickname to live with him in return for Nick's assistance with his business, a role Nickname quickly masters. The gang returns to Max's shop and tries to pawn some hot merchandise, which Maximum refuses, and this act effects in Maximum being arrested for selling stolen goods (the gang informed on him in retribution).Now Nickname has nowhere to go except return to the rather sick atmosphere of the commune run by older Mortenson (Niels Jørgensen) who dresses in drag and enjoys abusive behavior from the gang. Nickname and Rene explore every another sexually and start the first love affair of Nick's life. But eventually Ralph calls repeatedly to test to receive Nickname back after his girlfriend has gone, and though Nickname still feels strongly for Ralph, Rene is jealous and sets up a case that ends tragically.Not knowing how the original movie worked without the cuts made for international distribution, one can only evaluate this DVD (which is sadly lacking in any further details to illuminate the story). The script is low and the direction is jittery. The abusive scenes are hard to watch and the love scenes between Nickname and Rene are fairly bland. Christian Tafdrup is impressive as Nickname with a face and expressions the camera loves. The remainder of the cast is adequate if not particularly appealing or vivid. In the end this is a movie about the paternal needs of a kid from a broken home and the ends to which he will go to seek love. Not a joyous film! Grady Harp


This is the somewhat gritty and arresting tale of Nick, a 13 year-old runaway who misses out on few occasions to have a better life. He falls in with a gang of thieves and hustlers led by René, a woman posing as a man (played by Danish singing star Dicte). The viewer sees not only the sordid globe of male prostitution and anonymous gay sex but also the betrayal of believe that Nickname suffers from those to whom he turns for love and help.



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