The Conrad Boys
Newport Films / Year: 2005
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Newport Films / Year: 2005
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An Asian-American gay teen meets his first love and raises his younger brother after the death of their mother in this beautiful first film by Justin Lo.
First-time director/writer/actor Justin Lo has created a rather amazing debut, especially in light of the fact that he's only 24 years old. Professionally photographed, skillfully acted and told with razor-sharp precision, Lo's film tells a story of family and first gay love. Charlie Conrad (Lo) is a 19-year-old geeky Asian-Jewish 19-year-old teen who likes to keep his nose buried in a book. He's also gay, but very inexperienced. Following the death of his mother, Charlie decides to not attend college to raise his 9-year-old brother Ben (Stewart); their father ran off years ago in an alcoholic haze. Charlie keeps his job at a diner and puts aside money to send his little brother to college. He also puts his sexual feelings on hold as they don't fit in with his idea of being a parent. Everything changes when Jordan Rivers (Bartzen) walks into the diner and seduces the naive young man. The two guys feel an instant attraction which quickly leads to the bedroom. Just as the romance builds, Charlie and Ben's long-vanished father Doug reappears, clean and sober. Things get pretty hairy as Jordan is quite impulsive and Doug wants to reestablish his parental rights, Charlie tastes love for the first time and Ben doesn't know who to trust. With its moving story of parenting, first gay love and creating family, this one's a must. Watch out for Justin Lo, his is a career we're watching.
-- Scott Cranin
Amos Lassen wrote on 02/22/2011:
“THE CONRAD BOYS”
Good News from a First Timer
“The Conrad Boys” (Newport Films) is a lovely and sweet movie that deals with the life of a 19 year old Asian American who raises his brother when his mom dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Directed by Justin Lo, Charlie (Lo) a cute teenager who finds himself alone in the world with Ben after his mother mysteriously dies from a pain while giving a massage. It is another low budget movie with big hopes and it fulfills many of them. Charlie loves history and was headed to college when his life comes apart and he voluntarily assumes the role of parenting. In doing so he becomes a prisoner of life by his own choice and cuts himself off from a social life. Finally after being convinced by a friend, he agrees to attend a party where he meets a handsome intellectual, Jordan (very effectively played by Nick Bartzen). The two become fast friends and ultimately lovers. Yet Jordan has problems; his past was a life of crime. Without announcing himself, Charlie’s abusive alcoholic father (Barry Shay) turns up and claims to have cleaned up his life and now wants to become a part of his sons’ lives. This brings a whole series of events into play. Justin Lo with his first film has made an auspicious entrance into the genre of gay film making and if this film is a sign of things to come, I think we can happily add him to our list of directors to watch.
The movie is not without its faults but all in all it is clever and endearing. Lo who directed the film also wrote it and stars in it as well.
The action takes place in Newport Beach and the major fault that I found here was that at times there were moments that dragged; a tighter script could have solved that problem easily. Cute Boo Boo Stewart as Charlie’s younger brother is wonderful and the supporting cast does an admirable job. But it is Nick Bartzen as Jordan who owns this movie. His characterization of the young drifter who writes poetry and is interested in Charlie is an amazing performance. Although his motives for befriending Charlie are unclear—we really don’t know if he is using Charlie so that he can have a place to live or whether he really cares for him—he is a young man doing an emotional acting job.
Charlie seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, he is a whiner and angry and seems to be frustrated all of the time. As attractive as he is to look at here were times that I felt like I just wanted to shake him and tell him to do something with his life. I suspect that with a little more experience, he will blossom into a good actor. He has major problems to deal with—parenting, his father and new feelings of love and being brought into a new world of melodrama by Jordan. Lo does manage, as director, to keep the film from sinking into sentimentality which it could easily have done. For whatever minuses I found here, I found twice as many pluses and it seems to me that we are in store for some really good things to come our way from Justin Lo.
“The Conrad Boys” should be watched and enjoyed. It is a tight and moving movie with just the right amount of sweetness and pathos. It may not make you weep but it will elicit a tear or two and that is plenty enough for me.
Ryan wrote on 12/26/2006:
Opps.... I forgot to put my rating. Overall, the movie was great. I saw it three times already (in less than one week period). Yeah, I like it that much.
ryan wrote on 12/18/2006:
This film is not Hollywood-like quality in terms of the acting. That's sort of a given to many independent films. But, overall, this film is great because it is quite different from many LGBT films currently out there. The movie does not dwell on coping with sexuality or coming out. It's a movie about a biracial guy name Charlie going through tribulations and changes that occurs in many people's lives. It just happens that Charlie is a young gay man. That's all. Charlie is a strong gay character who has his flaws. I feel like I could relate to him and feel what he was going through.
The cinematography was great considering the budget involved. The lighting was nice and the music was awesome. I love the piano pieces. It was soothing and fits quite well with the movie.
I hope to see more work of Justin Lo in the future (more on producing, the writing and cinemetography than the acting). Good job! I don't care what the other reviewers said previous to me. You did a great job and I hope you continue doing it. Are we going to see any "wet" literature from Mr. Lo?
Thank you for not writing another coming-out film or gays-with-AIDS or gays-with-drug-problems. This is a positive film for the LGBT community.
derek wrote on 10/06/2006:
FIRST, remember the name Nick Bartzen.
The movie written, produced, edited, etc, by Justin Lo should NOT have included, Justin Lo, actor. The guy was lousy as an actor. For a young man who was to be unsure of his sexuality, you would never guess by his high-pitch nasal voice. I understand he probably had a very small budget to work with, but for a decent script he had written, he could of funded the project with someone to play himself that went to acting school.
Now on other hand, the character, Jordan, played by Nick Bartzen, was more than likely, the only actor who actually did not donate their time au gratis to be in the movie.
Nick Bartzen is a natural who drifts into the lift of Justin Lo's character. Nick not only plays the role with such ease, he also is easy on the eyes. As I watched this movie, I thought this guy will make it big. His abilities as an actor outdistances all of the others in the film. The only bit of advice I have for Nick, work on the punch. It fell a little short.
Please buy this movie for Nick - there is a part of the film that you will definitely appreciate my suggestion.
dfwjeep wrote on 09/03/2006:
While the movie may have been a bit predictable with it's story line you could never get too much of Nick Bartzen. Such a handsome young man, even surpassing the young Tom Cruise, only I'd guess Nick is much more level headed and not off the deep end like Tom has become.
Let's hope the majors get a line on this guy while they still can, would LOVE to see him in many more roles of any kind.
Great little movie, just in the "Nick" of time!!!
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