Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Beauty aka Skoonheid

Beauty_2Francois is one of the unhappiest self-loathing closeted gay men I have ever seen on film.  He’s a middle-aged South African who is first seen celebrating his daughter’s wedding in what appears to be a happy family. He is cold and matter of fact with his wife,  but that almost seemed like a natural state of affairs in a well established marriage like theirs. He gets his sexual needs taken care of elsewhere, not as one would suppose by a mistress, but by being part of a small clandestine group of straight men who meet up in secret to have sex with each other. These bigoted old white men hate ‘blacks and faggots’ who are totally banned from the group.

It’s quite the regular routine that this rather sad old man has worked out which has seems to satisfy him but at the wedding he sees his best friend’s son Christian all grown up and devilishly handsome and without the slightest encouragement from the young man, he gets totally infatuated. Suddenly the serious overly-cautious Francois turns into a stalker as he becomes completely obsessed with the charming young lawyer.
He secretly follows Christian back to Cape Town and turns up on his doorstep on the pretext of being there on business. Totally unaware of the older man’s desire Christian goes out to dinner with Francois, who he still addresses as Uncle as he has done since childhood.  The differences between the uptight old-fashioned business and the free-spirited confident young man are enormous and when Christian meets up with a friend when they are out, Francois misreads their friendly embrace and thinks that maybe Christian is not straight after all.
What follows is shockingly brutal and turns our loathing for the repressed Francois into nothing less than hatred. It’s a very vicious punch-line that caught me totally unaware and has me still reeling as I re-think about it all now.
It’s a thought-provoking and well executed glimpse at a whole tribe of blinkered closeted men who seemed trapped in the past that is (thankfully) disappearing. Their way of dealing with their sexuality seemed to hurt everyone involved and at the very least, made them all totally miserable.
The subject matter may have been disdainful, but the movie itself was completely compelling, thanks to a well written script, but mainly to a wonderfully pitch-perfect performance by Deon Lutz as Francois.
I cannot think that I have ever seen a gay themed movie set in South Africa, and definitely not one filmed in Afrikaans.  This one made the wait worthwhile, and it also won the Queer Palm at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, which is quite an honor.

Should be seen whether you are gay or not, BUT it is not for the feint-hearted.]           


Posted by queerguru  at  01:07


Genres:  drama, international

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