Gods and Monsters

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Interview with Bill Condon, by Karen Jaehne

Review, by Karen Jaehne

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Bill Condon brings to the screen the life of James Whale, the famed director of the old Frankenstein movies, in this poignant portrait of a man and artist in the winter of his life. James may be old, but he has a glint in his eye for mischief. He has long given up his career, and his health is failing terribly, but he still succumbs to a fascination for the new yard boy. Clayton, an ex- marine living in a trailer park, is a gardener by trade but a drifter in spirit. James coaxes him into modeling, triggering an unexpected outpouring of memories, some of them verbal, others in the form of visions. They will draw these two unlikely men into a tender relationship that has surprising importance for both.

Ian McKellen is unequivocally brilliant in the lead role. With every gesture, every subtle nuance, he brings James to life. Brandon Fraser's Clayton is the perfect counterpoint to James's "questionable" sexuality. He is not repulsed but not exactly trusting, either. It is people like Clayton (and the stoic housekeeper, played by Lynn Redgrave) who offer Whale the very inspiration for his creations, his beloved monsters. They are the ones who don't fit in, metaphors for those marginalized by society.

Condon cleverly lets you into the psyche of this artist, but he also opens the door for a more universal theme. In the right light and when judged by those who do not understand us, we may all look a little like monsters.

- John Cooper

Directed by: Bill Condon
Written by: Bill Condon, Christopher Bram
Starring: Lolita Davidovich, Lynn Redgrave, Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Kevin J. O'Connor, David Dukes, Brandon Kleyla, Jack Plotnick
Produced by: Paul Colichman, Gregg Fienberg
Original Music by: Carter Burwell

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