Wow! Such a good movie.
Just what I expected
Highly Overrated But Still Good
If the ambition is to provide two hours of instantly forgettable, popcorn-munching escapism, it succeeds.
Who cares. That's all I kept thinking while watching this. A love story about some random gay couple in the 40's. And? I found it incredibly boring and found nothing about either one of these two guys particularly interesting. Being gay in those days I will admit was pretty much the only interesting thing about this story otherwise I see them as nothing more than a pair of nerdy guys who are really not worthy of filming an entire documentary about. Not only that but it's just another old story of a couple with a big age difference. Control, dominance and the like. This story falls short mostly because of the lack luster characters, there's just nothing special or engaging about either of them. I just don't see it
On the weekend I recommended this film to friends who had told me how much they enjoyed the film "Christopher And His Kind" (starring Matt Smith). A few days later I realised that my friends are (as with Chris and Don) in a 30+ year relationship, with the younger man facing the impending loss of his beloved through cancer. So the part of the film which I am worried might be too distressing for them is when Don shares his experience of caring for Chris at home at the end of his life - which was of course extremely challenging, but exactly what they both wanted. I feel privileged to have been allowed such a personal view to this vital act of love - which is an integral part of their story, of lives well lived.The documentary presents a great deal of interesting material about the life Christopher Isherwood shared with Don Bachardy (and we hear Don's honest first hand opinion throughout). While they were very much in love, it wasn't all wine and roses (I think very few relationships are). Chris wrote "A Single Man" at a time when Don had requested a trial separation and he was not at all confident that Don would return. Don lives on in the house they shared for many decades and is a duly successful artist (a talent Chris had recognised in him and actively encouraged). The DVD edition comes with several cards of Don's work - including portraits of Chris."Chris & Don" is a magnificent testament to the reality of true love and to the value of commitment - and is much more effective in this regard than any other film I've seen.
This was just a beautiful, fascinating, really touching film. And the filmmakers nearly destroyed it. Like so many of the other commentators, I have to add that the use of recreations and animation - as little as there was - was a grave mistake. They had a wealth of - gorgeous - archival footage to work with. Truly, the quality and aptness of the Isherwood/Bachardy footage they were able to use was quite remarkable. So they had no need at all to add poorly shot bits of recreated narrative. It was obvious and completely unnecessary. As there was so little of it, it might have been overlooked. But the cringe-inducing cartoons could not be. They were used to illustrate the personal pet-names the two men would use with each other. Many of us tend to wax infantile when lovingly addressing our spouses or partners; they were no exception. That's fine. That's lovely, really. But to ratchet up the "cute" by morphing their messages and drawings into animation was a stupid choice. And to actually end the film with one of these sick-sweet cartoons is really unforgivable.I wish I had been told about those missteps. I wish I'd been told to be ready for them and do my best to ignore them. If the viewer can do that, this is a fantastic film.
For those that do not know a wee bit of history first.Chris is Christopher Isherwood, a novelist & story writer, He is mostly known for I AM A CAMERA which in turn became CABERET.Don is Don Bachardy a noted painter who has had many successful showings.There was a 30 year age difference between these 2 men.Chris was in his 40's when he met this handsome young teenager. Over a short period of time they fell in love with each other.& lived and made a life together till Chris' death 33 years later. In that time Chris helped Don become the fine artist he became & they were together to the end. Don narrates most of this 90 minute film, we learn about each of there careers & there devotion to one another.We (my partner of near 40 years & I) both felt the same way.There was something missing, The 2 fine men had a very exciting life, We see or know about none of it.If Hollywood made a real film of there lives the rating would be PG-13 more than likely an R or even an NC 17 would not be inconceivable.What we have just seen is PG mature subject matter. These 2 exciting people had very exciting lives,nothing indicates this.As is its a well made movie & we see much of Dons excellent paintings.Ratings *** (out of 4) points ** IMDb 7 (out of 10)** no points given for documentaries,I never was able to decide how to.