Saturday, December 5, 2015

Gods and Monsters

Movie Name: Gods and Monsters
Year of Release: 1998
Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, David Dukes, Kevin J. O'Connor, Mark Kiely, Jack Plotnick, Jack Betts, Matt McKenzie, Todd Babcock, Pamela Salem
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
Bill Condon's "Gods and Monsters" marked the ascension of the director to a more visible career (and won him an Oscar for adapted screenplay), since before this feature, the director was primarily doing television work. The film focuses on the life of film director James Whale, who gained prominence in Hollywood by directing "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" in the 30s. Now in the 1950s, Whale has retired and lives in a nice home in CA with his maid Hanna who disapproves of his homosexuality. Whale befriends a gardener (and former marine) who comes to his property, and they start a friendship, with the retired director silently lusting for his younger friend. As they become closer, Whale's intentions towards Boone become apparent, but not for the reasons Boone himself expected.
"Gods and Monsters" allowed to showcase the amazing talents of Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave. It's a film that focuses on a Hollywood icon, James Whale, a director who had fallen out of grace due to his sexuality. The film successfully captures the allure and magic of the silent films of Hollywood, all the while peeling off a layer and exposing the hidden truths of Hollywood and the prevailing homophobia at the time. Bill Condon smartly focuses the story on a fractured man, a person who feels like he belongs nowhere and who has been forgotten by everyone. His attempts at connecting are thwarted and yet he remains charismatic and filled with energy and wit that are unique. The film is a three part piece, between this central character who is unable to adjust, a stranger who is a bridge to the modern times, and the witness (the maid), who knows the details of the central character's life and who also infuses the film with humor and heart. This film lives from the fantastic performances from Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave, and remains thus far one of the best features from director Bill Condon's career. Worth watching.