Beauty

OLIVER HERMANUS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5.  Swift Productions, Équation, Moonlighting Films.  South Africa/France/Germany, 2011.  Screenplay by , Oliver Hermanus.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2011.  

A middle-aged, married man in Bloemfontein spots a handsome young man from Cape Town at his daughter’s wedding and immediately becomes obsessed. He’s been living a lie for years, playing the family man at home while enjoying casual sex with men on the side under the most lurid circumstances, but this new discovery, with his ripely beautiful face and sexy physique, captures him in a whole new way. In his pursuit of an ideal that he can never face because his closeted status makes him so self-destructive, our protagonist finds an excuse to travel and follow the young man, leading him to some pretty extreme choices and an unpleasant (and disturbing) conclusion. This dour piece of preachy melodrama gets high points for good acting and a suitably judgemental view of homophobia in a society that has taught people to hate themselves, but it overdoes the didactics more than a little bit. The lack of humour or passion, which would have been effective without being inappropriate, makes it feel like two hours of finger wagging, right down to the poignant final scene that makes sure that even the dimmest audience member knows exactly what they should learn from the experience.

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