The Dying Gaul
Woe to him who seeks to please rather than appall.
A powerful and seductive Hollywood mogul convinces an impoverished West Hollywood writer, whose lover has recently died of AIDS, to sell his autobiographical screenplay for big bucks. The writer, Robert, knows he'll have to make major changes in the script (like changing the sex of the dying lover). During the rewrite, the producer, Jeffrey, takes Robert under his wing, introducing him to his wife Elaine, herself a closet screenwriter. Jeffrey approaches Robert for sex and Elaine approaches Robert out of curiosity about his sex life in grief. The entangled triangle of relationships threatens more than the completion of a film script. Written by
Although it is slightly smug and off-putting at first, and absolutely theatrical throughout, this intriguing film still gets under your skin once it finally grabs you. And it definitely grabs you once you let it - with three very engaging lead performances (in particular Peter Sarsgaard and Patricia Clarkson) and a very subtle, dark sense of humor. At one point, it becomes a mesmerizing film. And, even though it doesn't quite stick the landing - with a contrived, unsatisfying ending - the pointed observations on sexuality, lust and guilt ring true. It's a singularly haunting film - regardless of its flaws.