Friday, June 13, 2008

Oedipal Cinema

Savage Grace
a film directed by Tom Kalin
"One of the uses of money is that it allows us not to live with the consequences of our mistakes." - Antony Baekeland
One of the current films at the Landmark Century Cinema is an adaptation of a true story titled Savage Grace. This is the story of the beautiful and charismatic Barbara Daly (played convincingly by Julianne Moore, whose performance in Far From Heaven was one of the best I have ever seen), who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland (searingly portrayed by Stephen Dillane), heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune.
The film, based on the book by Natalie Robins,  is narrated by Eddie Redmayne playing the role of their only child Antony; he is a failure in his father's eyes, and as he matures he develops gradually from a beautiful boy with doting mother to handsome young homosexual whose escapades do not receive his mother's approval. She attempts to cure him with disastrous consequences as he slowly slides into madness, a separate universe of his own making (interesting ironic touch in his use of 'backwards writing' in his journal modeled after Leonardo da Vinci). The film documents both the oedipal struggles of young Eddie alongside his father's weakness as a man incapable of handling what remained of the family fortune. Through it all Barbara seems on the edge balanced between both unfulfilled erotic and artistic dreams. The director, Tom Kalin, effectively portrays the world of the wealthy who manage to elegantly while away their life doing nothing. It is a thought provoking film for those who ponder the state of oedipal desires at the end of the twentieth century.

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