Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2013. Big Indie Pictures, A+E Studios, Killer Films, Lifetime Films. Screenplay by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland. Cinematography by Michael Simmonds. Produced by Declan Baldwin, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon. Music by Nick Urata. Production Design by Jade Healy. Costume Design by Karyn Wagner. Film Editing by Robin Katz. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
Errol Flynn was already a notorious ladies man with a few statutory rape trials under his belt when he met teenager Beverly Aadland, beginning an affair with her that took up the last two years of his rather short life. Following his death was an eruption of scandal and gossip, criticized but not necessarily discouraged by Aadland’s mother who had spent years promoting her daughter’s career in show business and saw everything as an opportunity. This slice of Hollywood Babylonia has been brought to the screen by the team of Wash Westmoreland and the late Richard Glatzer, starring Kevin Kline as the roguish Flynn and Dakota Fanning as the wise but vulnerable Aadland, lorded over by the ambitions of her pushy mother played by Susan Sarandon. The recreation of the period is effective and the actors all do adequate work–Kline is physically suited to the role though the voice and accent sound a bit too studied, while Sarandon might be too wise and sympathetic for what seems to have been a trashy battle axe—but the film suffers from a lack of either noble or trashy motivations. Glatzer and Westmoreland are too polite about the scandalous nature of this relationship (he was thirty-three years older than her) but on the other hand do not capture a feeling of true love amid the sensational noise (she seems to have really taken his death very badly). Wan characterizations overcome strong performers, but it’s not boring and not nearly the miserable exploitation that Lovelace was either.