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TIFF 2022 Review: Bros – “It has undeniable universal appeal”

Courtesy of TIFF

There’s a scene in Bros where Billy Eichner’s character, Bobby, has a monologue outlining all the discrimination that he has had to endure, how much harder he’s had to work for all his eventual success.  It’s touching and heartbreaking and a needed moment of seriousness amongst the many laughs of this groundbreaking romantic comedy.  It’s a moment of true sincerity that is just one of many adding to the depth of this feel-good film. 

Bobby (Eichner) is a podcast host in New York City, an expert in LGBTQ+ history and culture.  So much of an expert that he’s opening a museum.  But he’s not an expert in love.  While he has hookups, often awkward ones that result in post-encounter walks of reflection around the city, he has never been in love, he’s never been in any sort of serious relationship.

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It’s not what he’s expecting either when he runs into Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) at a club.  Both men seem to pride themselves on being emotionally unavailable and aren’t looking to turn their relationship into anything further.  But often it’s when you’re not looking that the most significant moments of your life happen. 

Eichner co-wrote the script with director Nicholas Stoller who adds this wonderful film to his considerable list of comedies that includes Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Five-Year Engagement.  Their script is smart, full of commentary and wit, loving without becoming overly sentimental.  Eichner leans heavy into the pop culture references here which may hurt this film’s ability to hold up in the long term, yet so many of them (including references to Friends, The Hangover and Dear Evan Hansen) are clearly focused on the 40ish age bracket who tend to have nostalgia for these things.  I can say this, as I’m one of them.  

Eicher and McFarlane are gold together.  Their chemistry is undeniable, able to be standoffish and awkward or incredibly sweet.  While most of the film centres on the two men, supporting turns by those who are on the creative board at the museum, while too plentiful to name, are also wonderful and diverse.  There’s also a great list of cameos that are delightful.   

Bros is exciting, progressive and, in spots, pretty sex-forward but it’s also tender and romantic in equal turn.  It has undeniable universal appeal.  By its end, Bros settles into some more familiar and common romantic comedy tropes, like a montage of Bobby and Aaron’s moments together, but at this point we are already invested enough to fall hook, line and sinker, plus they play in what feels like a more satirical way.  “Love is not love,” sings Bobby over these images, and the sentiment there is true.  Each love story, each culture, is unique and different and this celebration of queer love should be the first of many to revolutionize just how we bring these stories to life.  

Bros premiered September 9th at the Toronto International Film Festival.  It is in wide release September 30th, 2022.

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