Speedy Boys

Director: James Herbert

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


Cool and naked like Easter’s violets, flesh was unchained then. —Pasolini

Beautiful boys wrestle naked on fresh, green grass. An Italian countryside exudes the promise of adventure. A sun-drenched body is painted with lipstick and sexual longing. Sharpening the experimental techniques he employed in his debut feature Scars, James Herbert has created a masterpiece of romantic impressionist filmmaking in his second effort. His use of meditative pacing, jarring juxtaposition, and piercingly intimate scenarios produces a vulnerability in the viewer which ripens him or her for an intensely sensual relationship, not only with the characters in the film, but with its formal elements as well. The central characters are Carter and Andy, two young and beautiful American boys summering in Italy. They spend their time biking between their apartment in the city and a painting studio in the country, all the while romancing a range of lovely Italian girls.

Herbert uses unconventional characterization to make Carter and Andy into exotic muses, whose sensuality quietly saturates every scene they inhabit. Dialogue is sparse and less a narrative device than a formal element, used to create moments of verbal intimacy which accent the characters’ omnipresent nakedness. Gorgeous color cinematography, extreme changes in focal length, superb editing, and fantastic sound design combine to create a profoundly sensual journey, entirely visceral in effect. Speedy Boys floods every sense to seduce the viewer while feeding the intellect a very heady wine.

James Herbert, Director
James Herbert was born in Boston in 1938 and studied with painter Clyfford Still and filmmaker Stan Brakhage. He has received Guggenheim grants in both filmmaking and painting. He has made more than forty-five short films, which have been shown worldwide. His music videos for REM and the B52s crossed over from MTV to the international festival circuit. He has also been director of photography on two feature films. Scars, his feature directorial debut, screened at Sundance last year.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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