In Water Boys Massimo (Giuseppe Claudio Insalaco), a young man from Italy, is travelling to St. Petersburg to take part in an international swim meet. There he meets Russian translator Vladimir (Daniel de Rossi) who works for the press. The two of them quickly develop deep feelings for each other with Massimo even admitting that he is in love with Vladimir.
They are forced to face cultural differences and stereotypes as well as Russia’s new anti-gay laws, putting their relationship to a test on a regular basis. While Massimo is openly comfortable with his sexuality, Vladimir struggles to be at ease with his. Being aware of the political situation in regards to homosexuality in Russia, Massimo doesn’t push Vladimir in public but he voices his opinions clearly in private, telling Vladimir he should tell his ill mother that he is gay.
When they get physically attacked by a group of men, they must ask themselves if their feelings for each other are strong enough to overcome all these obstacles or if they are simply bound to lead separate lives.
“Roberto Cuzzillo’s “Dreams from Strangers (Water Boys)” is an entrancing, poetic work that is destined to divide viewers because it dares to veer off the comfortable narrative path in its exploration of first love, self-discovery and courage.”
— Edge Media Network
Did You Know?
Water Boys uses a lot of different techniques to portray its story. The director uses narration, historic footage of Joseph Stalin and St. Petersburg, (possibly legitimate) video clips from the internet that show gay people in Russia being abused, as well as scenes from an Italian silent film. The original Italian title of the film is Non accettare I sogni dagli sconosciuti while Water Boys is also known as Dreams from Strangers in English. The quote Vladimir uses to end his letter to Massimo with is taken from a letter Irish writer Oscar Wilde wrote to Lord Alfred Douglas while he was in prison in 1895.