Mackellan saves it
I wanted to love this film but only liked it. Bill Condon has a lot of
good ideas but still tends to make juicy material dull. His KINSEY
dragged in many spots and his earlier GODS AND MONSTERS leaves too much
to be desired, considering the fascinating and previously unexplored
subject matter: the final days of the gifted 1930s film director James
Whale (FRANKENSTEIN, SHOW BOAT and THE INVISIBLE MAN, among others). My
favorite scene is the poolside interview with the shallow and
opportunistic fan magazine writer because it captures the essence of
Whale and the state he found himself in by his mid-60s: a brilliant
artist consigned to cultural obscurity, of interest only to film geeks,
but with a naughty streak which enables him to get even when treated in
a condescending manner.
The plot, to the extent there is one, revolves around the homosexual
Whale's attraction to a handsome young landscaper working on his
property. Brendan Fraser as the object of desire just doesn't cut it.
For one thing he doesn't act or talk like a fellow of that social
station at that time in history; he seems more like a Gen X college
jock. He is not helped by the clumsy script. Late in the film we are
led to believe that the Frasier character bears a physical resemblance
to the Frankenstein monster as embodied by Boris Karloff and that
perhaps the attraction is explained by this resemblance. Episodes from
Whale's past are presented awkwardly by direct explanation or
uninspired flashbacks like a World War One trench scene which evokes
nothing but the standard overused imagery. A few good lines of dialogue
delivered by the expert Ian Mackellan as Whale would have worked far
better. For a film that deals to some extent with the physical
attraction of one person for another, there is no real eroticism even
though opportunities abound.
Lynn Redgrave as Whale's Hungarian maid supplies broad and welcome
comic relief with her heavy accent, dowdy appearance, sourpuss facial
expression and fractured English. The film belongs to Ian Mackellan as
Whale. No matter how handicapped he is by Condon's script and direction
he is believable as the human being he is portraying..
Who is the real Monster?
I saw Gods and Monsters purely from seeing McKellan's work in X-Men and
The Lord Of The Rings. I knew what it was about, but nothing could have
prepared me for the mental onslaught that awaited me. As James Whale,
Mckellan is astonishing. Sure, he is cast to type (both old gay British
men) but he so convinces us that he is his man broken down by his
lifestyle, by his health and by the ever changing world around him. The
film depicts him as the man who doesn't know for sure if he is the God
or The Monster. Brendan Fraser gives us one of his best performances as
Whale's gardiner who seems so scared by the advances of the old man.
Lyn Redgarave is also excellent as Whale's housemaid, who is so
disheartened by Whale's lifestyle. It's a little weird at times, and
the climax is actually quie terrifying, but otherwise it's excellent..