Category Archives: GLBT Film

“CONSEQUENCES”— A Gay Film from Slovenia

“CONSEQUENCES” A Gay Film from Slovenia Amos Lassen “Consequences” (“Posledice”) is the first gay-themed film ever produced in Slovenia but this is not because of any anti-LGBT politics affecting Slovenian society. Gay people in the country are afforded the same rights as the average European country, with the only exception being same-sex marriage, which is yet to be legalized despite widespread support both from the population and the country’s parliament. The threats of violence aren’t as strong as they are in other countries. “Consequence” is the first feature film by director Darko Stante who has found a new angle on a familiar staple of LGBT storytelling of putting the protagonist into a world of hyper-masculinity. We see no overt homophobia and even name calling is embedded with a weird homoeroticism and this shows us that the characters are comfortable with their sexuality. the (presumably) straight characters appear to be. The tension comes from Andrej (Matej Zemljic) realizing an inner sensitivity at the precise moment he falls in with a crowd who don’t have a sensitive bone in their bodies.
Eighteen-year-old Andrej  is sent to a youth detention center because of concerns by his parents and the courts following a string of delinquent crimes, which culminated with his frustrated attack of a woman with whom he could not maintain an erection. he couldn’t get erect to have sex with. When he arrives at the center, he immediately becomes the rival of another aggressive resident, Zeljko (Timon Sturbej), who tries to find conflict with anybody in his vicinity over foolish and trivial situations. After he sees Andrej at the gym with his superior strength, he enlists him to join his gang, leading him on elaborate schemes to take money from those who have owed him in the past. After a violent theft, Zeljko realizes that Andrej is gay and this causes further confusion for Andrej. Now he has to hide his sexuality and  also work out whether it’s being used as a blackmail tool to keep him involved for increasingly criminal schemes.
The unique character dynamics within the drama make this more surprising than the average coming out story. The appearance of hyper masculinity is altogether more complex than being a story about a young man discovering his sexuality in a defiantly heterosexual locale. His peers approach homosexuality as an odd curio and use it as an insult while taking part in graphic homoerotic displays.
Zeljko’s sexuality remains somewhat ambiguous  and it is never clear as to whether he’s showing genuine affection after hearing Andrej’s secret, or using it as a tool in his arsenal to get him to do his dirty work. The film is a character study of two men with the capability to be sensitive and emotionally intuitive who live lives of violence instead.The film takes the expected narrative you’d expect from a story of a man coming out in this environment and creates something more unexpected, more confrontational, and altogether more exceptional.
These young, relatively inexperienced actors are convincing as thugs. Andrej is ‘comfortable’ with his sexuality, it’s what got him into trouble in the first place. Director Stante stretches his characters to breaking point, they all break in different ways. Matej Zemljic is remarkable as  Andrej and we feel for him even with the stupid decisions that he makes because we know that there’s a good kid inside who really wants to get out but doesn’t stand a chance.
This is not an easy film to watch especially since, in many cases today, an accusation becomes an automatic indictment. The film looks at responsibility and attacks parental responsibility.

“CODE NAME: DYNASTUD”—A Farce

“CODE NAME: DYNASTUD” A Farce Amos Lassen Set in the USA in 2024 where homosexuality has long been outlawed and made punishable by death, ultra-conservative gun-loving, gay-hating senator Hightower (Bruce Church) is hoping to become the next president. However,  his daughter Patty (Candace Sampson) sleeps around a bit too much (quite literally). Hightower decides to give her a husband who will be forced to be devoted to her so he chooses Bart (Derek Laurendeau), who got caught offering a blowjob but is otherwise a pretty decent guy, and the two get married. But because he is  gay, Bart is unable to perform in the wedding night, and then is snatched by gay superspy Dynastud. Bart is believed to be the chosen one of the secret gay movement, so it’s imperative to get him to Bruce Li’s (Mark Andrew Garner) frozen body on a Canadian space station without delay but Hightower and daughter are not the ones to let a good man go, so they send bumbling duo of Sam (Dan Mauro) and Vargas (Aaron Andrade) after the two of them. (Whew).
“Code Name: Dynastud”  starts on a wild concept and then just gets weirder all the time and also funnier. The film also never talks down to the audience and keeps them wondering “what will they think of next” occasions.
                It is a raunchy comedy that follows a gay secret agent/superhero   who combats the forces of repression that have taken over the US in a   dystopian future that seems a whole lot less ridiculous now than it did a few   years ago when the film was being written. (I know that is a run-on   sentence).   Even though “Dynastud” is  full of political subtext, there is no   mention of any actual current politicians. tt has over-the-top characters,   visual jokes, self-referential humor and throw-away puns. The meta humor and   coy references make this film a winner. Republicans are mega-maniacal, the   homosexual underground’s enforcers are the “k.d. lang fan club” and Kegel   balls are the health care industry’s cure-all panacea. Any group is a fair   satirical target, and by the end the hijinks go interstellar.   Directed   by Richard Griffin, the story was written by Lenny Schwartz, Duncan Pflaster   and many more.    

“DEAR EX”— A Contentious Issue and a Human Backdrop

 “Dear Ex”

A Contentious Issue and a Human Backdrop

Amos Lassen

In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage and thus paved way for other countries to do so. Photos of Taipei’s gay pride parade showed the world the joy that came with the decision. However, even with Taiwan’s reputation as one of the most progressive countries in Asia, conservative groups fight back against the decision. We sometimes forget how such debates affect real families and real people, many of them who are marginalized. “Dear Ex” takes this often contentious issue and frames it against a very human backdrop. Famed director Mag Hsu and new director Hsu Chih-yen have crafted a compelling story about a teenage boy, his widowed mother, and his late father’s gay lover.
This is a touching film that avoids histrionics or sentimentality by framing everything through the lens and perspective of a boy, Chengxi (Joseph Huang), whose life is thrown into chaos. After his father, Song Zhengyuan (Spark Chen) dies of cancer, Chengxi finds himself caught in the middle of a feud between his enraged, divorced mother, Liu Sanlian (Hsieh Ying-xuan), and his father’s free-spirited gay lover, Jay (Roy Chiu), who Zhengyuan named as his insurance beneficiary.
Even though “Dear Ex” most certainly touches upon sexual orientation and how it is considered within Taiwanese society, the issue the film is after is much more universal. Liu Sanlian thinks that Jay’s mother (Ai-lun Kao) does not know about her son’s homosexuality and we immediately recognize the kind of social taboo linked to sexual orientation. In general, the film often plays with the concepts of private and public when depicting homosexuality as a purely private matter limited to the confinements of Jay’s apartment. The idea of restrictions such as these are not limited to his character. Through the visual approach the narrative often uses, fragments of animation mimicking Song’s scrapbook drawings, the viewer is constantly aware of the presence of these metaphorical prison bars. Many of them have been designed by their environment, but some are the creations of the characters themselves. For example, while Liu may appear like a “nagging” annoyance at the beginning, the mixture of anger, disappointment and downright fear to once again be ignored (this time by her son) becomes a framework through which the character’s action can be understood. This is largely due to Hsieh Ying-xuan’s performance that ranging from hysterical to finely nuanced scenes expressing how much her character is afraid of being considered a failure in the eyes of society
Watching his mother hound Jay for this insurance payout, Chengxi expresses contempt for what he perceives as his mother’s greed. This leads him to move in with Jay, an eccentric theatre producer who is struggling to stage a final production of the play that brought him and Zhengyuan together Jay and Zhengyuan met many years ago and were in love, but Zhengyuan turned away from Jay in order to live a “normal” life, later marrying Liu Sanlian and having Chengxi. After being diagnosed with cancer, Zhengyan decided to live out his final days with Jay, who he called his husband. After his death, the lives of these three individuals come together in a way that is life changing for them all. The backstory of the film is incredibly painful and emotional, but “Dear Ex” avoids melodrama by subverting expectations of what such a film should be.
Chengxi, though clearly confused and grief-stricken, does not wallow in this anguish, but instead his irreverent voice-over and hand-drawn annotations on screen add many notes of levity to what could otherwise turn into a story that is ultra-serious. Of his mother’s histrionics, Chengxi says, “Not going to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting would be a great loss.” The standout moments  really show the pain that comes with any relationship. Many of them are flashbacks. Jay violently cuts his hair in an attempt to convince his dying partner to do the same; the two men, both beaten down, look in the mirror, allowing the viewer to identify even more strongly with the men looking back at us. In his cramped office at a local university, Zhengyuan tells his wife that he is moving out as she begs that she will change so that he will want to stay. When he tells her the real reason their relationship will never work out, she collapses to her knees. This enclosed space, combined with the beautiful cinematography, makes the viewer feel like a voyeur during this intimate moment. Going back to the present day, Jay’s relationship with his mother is examined, and the result is an unexpected moment that demonstrates the power of love to triumph over bias.
This is a powerful portrait of contemporary Taiwan in transition. It strips away the headlines surrounding the fight for LGBT rights and  examines the inner life of a family—brought together not by blood, but by love. On the surface, “Dear Ex” may be regarded as a melodrama and it certainly shares some ground with these in terms of writing and character development. However, during the course of the film we are won over thanks to the visual approach and the performance by Joseph Huang as the frustrated adolescent, constantly at odds with the outside world. Confronted with Jay’s story, his love and affection for his father, the tables are suddenly turned against his mother, but even that does not work, as her story is equally a series of disappointments and trying to accommodate a notion of “being normal”. The film moves  from coming-of-age drama to a story about weakness, love and grief, as well as the personal drama of letting go of the kind of life one promised himself, or which was promised to him.
On a technical level, “Dear Ex” embraces character-driven drama through its depiction of spaces. Each of them constitute a universe connected to memories of love, regret and laughter, highlighted in this case by the frequent use of flashbacks, often blurring the lines between present and past. At the same time, they reflect the contrast between the characters: the chaotic, extroverted nature of Jay and the controlled character of Liu Sanlian who likes to keep things nice and neat. “Dear Ex” is a drama about loss, growing up and people’s weaknesses. It is a story about many serious issues handled with the right balance of comedy and sincerity supported by the good cast and a playful use of animated sequences. It is a film that is not easily forgotten.

“THE STORY OF THE STONE”— A Raw Portrayal of Taipei’s LGBTI Scene with a Classic Chinese Love Story


“The Story of the Stone” A Raw Portrayal of Taipei’s LGBTI Scene with a Classic Chinese Love Story Amos Lassen “The Story of the Stone” is an honest and natural depiction of the gay life in Taipei, as well as exploring despair and hope. It offers a raw take on Taipei’s LGBTI scene going into a life of drug abuse and orgies. Its unflinching treatment, complemented by the film’s cast of twelve hunky actors, leaves nothing to the imagination. The plot  is a modern adaptation of the iconic Chinese classic novel, “Dream of the Red Chamber”. Now the story is now set in the Red House, at the heart of Taipei’s LGBTI scene. We realize that beneath the debauchery lies a tale of loss, despair, and importantly, hope. While the film is an honest look at gay life in Taipei it is also a way for people outside of the LGBTI community to understand that this is actually happening next door without them knowing it.
“The Story  in the Stone” comes  at a relevant time. Taiwan is widely considered to be the most LGBTI-friendly country in Asia,  yet Taiwanese voters rejected the legalization of marriage equality in a recent referendum. These referendum results were considered to be a major setback for the LGBTI rights movement in Asia and followed deeply bitter and divisive campaigns from both pro- and anti-same-sex marriage advocates. Human Rights Watch, wrote an open letter to Taiwan’s government calling for the implementation of marriage equality regardless of the referendum result, arguing that the fundamental rights of the LGBTI community come first. The. Film really just depicts almost ‘a day in the life of’ a particular segment of the gay world that genuinely exists. We recognize most of the characters in the movie as people we know and have had most of those conversations over the years and seen or experienced most of the events that happen. Moments were happy, others were sad, some were matter-of-fact, but most of it is an objective view of the gay world that many hetero friends would be shocked to hear of. This is not representative of the entire gay community, or even the majority, but it feels real for that certain segment it is very real.
Starr Wu’s debut feature is a strikingly modern adaptation of one of China’s Four Great Classics, from Cao Xueqin’s 18th century novel Dream of the Red Chamber, but set in Taipei’s iconic LGBT location, Red House. The film displays an honest and natural depiction of the gay life in Taipei, as well as exploring despair and hope. “The Story of the Stone” is provocative and fun, a pumped-up retooling of the 700 page epic for the Grindr generation. The plot goes like this: after the death of Lin’s boyfriend Bao, Lin heads to Taipei and meets Josh, who has also just arrived in Taipei as a new waiter at the Stone bar in Red House. Slowly a new relationship sparks between Lin and Josh. However, the relationship turns complicated in Red House, involving the clothing store owner Sean and his friend Lian. Josh ends up in the hospital. Meanwhile, a fire breaks out and almost destroys Red House. Lin’s search for his boyfriend Josh leads him to discover a rumor of an affair.

“HONEYGLUE”— Morgan and Jordan

“Honeyglue” Morgan and Jordan Amos Lassen “Honeyglue” is the story of a dying girl, Morgan (Adriana Mather), with a gender-bending writer, Jordan (Zach Villa), who has a penchant for wearing skirts, burgundy-colored lipstick, and noting thoughts about honeybees. The film begins as a wigged-out Jordan flirts with Morgan at a club only to receive a barrage of uncalled-for questions: “Are you a boy or a girl?” and “Are you gay? It’s okay if you are.”
Writer-director James Bird quickly takes us away from the strangeness of a dance floor where anything seems possible to a suburban American home where Morgan lives with her parents and brother who are openly transphobic. A large part of the film is spent on
Jordan’s gender fluidity. I wonder if the idea was to pit  Morgan’s terminal condition against Jordan’s queerness as mirroring metaphors, but they seem to belong to completely different films.   The look of cancer here becomes a demystified look as the film is more interested in borrowing cancer as a narrative shorthand for intensity rather than investigating terminal cancer as a lived experience. We also have a subplot about violent Hispanic thugs being on Jordan’s case for money that he owes them.  In one scene,
Morgan and Jordan are having a drink at a pub; she wears a Chaplin-like hat and moustache and he has on a jet-black wig and for a moment, we see two people embodying a concept without having to spell it out. It’s a fascinating image that requires nothing to support itself.
Telling the story of Morgan (Adriana Mather), a dying girl with three months to live, who falls in love with Jordan (Zach Villa), a gender-bending ex-junkie, “Honeyglue” makes repeated stabs at breaking down the gender binary, but it cancels itself in many cases. One minute, Morgan and Jordan are robbing convenience stores and contemplating suicide, the next they’re trading romantic thoughts on the beach. Bird’s interest in subverting society’s norms around gender and sexuality seems genuine enough, he goes about it in a maudlin fashion.
The actors give the film life along the way. Jordan is an extremely tricky role, an only-in-the-movies runaway with good skin and perfect hair, but Villa somehow manages to turn him into a credible human being. Mather is saddled with the dying-girl part, the kind of role that usually requires a lot of coughing and sad looks, but Mather really elevates it, giving a beautifully nuanced performance, resilient and quirky without becoming cloying. The duo forms a surprisingly potent chemistry that really shines in scenes where Bird puts down his pen and lets the two interact physically. This is the rare film where the best scene may actually be a nudity-free sex scene. Morgan and Jordan, both wearing female undergarments almost merge into a single person. 
Director Bird repeatedly returns to an overwrought children’s story about dragonflies and honeybees written by Jordan. The insect metaphor is overdone here. Neither Jordan nor Morgan seem to have friends.
It seems that Bird’s goal is to discard the deeply held notions about gender and sexuality so if the film helps make issues surrounding gender normativity accessible, then it has done a great job.

“COMING OUT: SEASON TWO”— Old Friends

“Coming Out”— Season 2 Old Friends Amos Lassen I often wondered what happened to my friends from the first season of “Coming Out” since I had not heard anything about the release of a second season. We return to Montreal and to Matt, Caroline, Hugo, Geneviève and Olivier some 18 months later and see that they have all changed a lot. “Coming Out: Season 2” features twelve exceptional new episodes of the series. You need not have seen season one to appreciate season two as the references made to the past are all explained . Here are a group of gay people from Montreal that share their troubled love lives and day lives. Matt seems to be the main character; he has returned from New York but one of the first people he meets is his ex-boyfriend (the man he left to get away from – but is there still a spark? We also have the two doctors the husband of one has left her and now lives with her colleague playing ‘not so happy families’ with his two daughters. Likewise we hear from the lesbian social worker, the fabulous Mexican art promoter and many other characters.
This series follows a similar format to the first in that there are twelve episodes that all last around 10 minutes each. They do not waste any time at all but it seems that as soon as we get hooked on what is happening, it is over.

“THE FAVOURITE”— A Dark Comedy Drama

“The Favourite” A Dark Comedy Drama Amos Lassen A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Set in early 18th century England,
“The Favourite” is an elegant, sophisticated and entertaining dark comedy drama from director Yorgos Lanthimos. Lanthimos is out to shock with a little strong sexual content, nudity and very strong language and these are at odds with the beauty of the settings. Three brilliant female characters at the center of the drama, all of them brilliantly performed by fine actresses who know a good thing when they see one and share that with us. Olivia Colman is Queen Anne and has terrible troubles with her legs and performs the duties of the throne with the help of her very close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), who is ruling the nation in her place. Emma Stone is Abigail, a former lady fallen on hard times and when she arrives at the royal palace, she is taken on by Sarah as her new servant (after she eases the Queen’s leg pain with an herbal remedy). Abigail is a mix of great cheek and charm and is soon going to be Sarah’s rival for the attentions and affections of the Queen. Colman, Weisz and Stone are all just great.  The men’s roles are subsidiary, though there is just about space for excellent Nicholas Hoult who spits out epigrams with Wildean vigor. The other men are Joe Alwyn as Masha, Mark Gaits as Lord Marlborough and James Smith as Godolphin.
This feminist period dramedy has an outrageous plot loosely based on historical figures of the time which gives us a glorious tale of jealousy and intrigue. Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough is the de-facto monarch as she literally controls everything the Queen says and does.   She is also the Queen’s lover and uses this intimacy as a means to keep the Queen in check as much as possible. Anne is lonely and childless having had 17 stillborn births and miscarriages (there is no mention at all of her husband in this drama) and her only solace, besides the Duchess, are the 17 pet rabbits that share her bedroom. 
Abigail is a cousin of the Duchess whose family have fallen on hard times and is now destitute. She is employed as a lowly servant but manages to create some attention for herself when an herbal concoction she creates eases the Queen’s gout. For this she is elevated to be the Duchess’s personal maid, this  makes her privy to some of the very intimate activity of the Queen’s bedchamber, and very soon she is plotting to take over the Duchess’s position in and out of the queen’s bed. The two cousins become mortal enemies and both deviously scheme to make sure The plot is filled with intrigue and double-dealing with this two ambitious women scheming for the patronage of their queen.
The film has three fine roles for women and three talented actresses more give it their all.  Coleman perfectly captures the unbalanced Queen and her massive mood swings that unhinge the Court.  She is perfectly matched my Weisz as the Machiavellian Duchess who has already wrangled a  Palace as a gift from the Queen and is determined to hang on to the reins of power which she thinks are rightly hers.  Stone may be more inexperienced in playing power games, but soon learns how to successfully out play her elders.Olivia Colman balances her portrayal of Queen’s with self-indulgence, self-pity and actual despair. Queen Anne suffers from gout, which she treats herself. never was held responsible for her actions in her life. She is also the ruler of a country and has the last word on questions of taxes and decides on matters of war and peace that directly have an effect on thousands of people.

“THE WEDDING”— A Secret Gay Life

“The Wedding” A Secret Gay Life Amos Lassen  This intriguing autobiographical wee film helmed by Egyptian/American filmmaker Sam Abbas  who wrote, directed and stars in this autobiographical film.  Rami (Sam Abbas), a Muslim, leads a secret gay lifestyle that his fiancée, Sara (Nikohl Boosheri), whom he resides with in New York City does not know about. Sara tries to get him to plan the details of the wedding and honeymoon, but Rami seems disinterested. He also feels pressured by his mother, Abir ( Hend Ayoub), who calls and texts him in hopes of helping him with his wedding plans. Meanwhile, he has  been carrying nsexually-charged affairs with two men, Lee (Harry Aspinwall) and Tom (James Penfold).  
The screenplay avoids flashbacks, melodrama, cheesiness, edge-of-your-seat suspense and big twists and cheesiness and goes instead for a stark “slice-of-life.” You never learn how Rami and Sara met nor how long they’ve been together or what their childhood was like. The lack of exposition puts a lot of faith in the audience’s imagination and intelligence. When Rami masturbates, at first you don’t quite know what he’s doing because it’s shot from a distance outside of his room and he’s blocked by part of a wall, but you soon realize that he’s probably masturbating to porn—although you never learn what kind of porn. Sara texts a friend of hers, Marco (John Hein), who may or may not be more than just a friend. This is clearly the kind of film that leaves some things open to interpretation.        The cinematography, set design and scene compositions enrich film with meaning but  the long shots make it  hard to tell what the characters think or to feel their warmth. One such beautifully-shot scene that feels cold is when Rami stares into the distance at a Hudson River pier; we only see him from behind far away. We understand that Rami is emotionally distant from Sara, that doesn’t mean that he has to be distant from the audience. The film ultimately left me cold and underwhelmed and it could easily have done the opposite. The closest we ever see Rami express any emotion at all is when he is with one of this two male affairs.  He is leading this double life stringing everyone along until Sara listens to a voicemail on Rami’s phone and discovers the real reason for his reluctance to agree on the wedding plans. Abbas shoots the whole thing in a dim light using the fixed frames which are positioned at a distance from the action and this makes the already slow pace seem even slower and dissipates the little energy there is. The only hint of any passion is when Sara discovers Rami has been sleeping with Lee and finally blows up.
There are plenty of gaps in the story but that is definitely to Abbas’ credit for allowing audiences to use their imagination filling them in.  The back story of the making of Abbas’s debut feature is  fascinating as Abbas’ company ARABQ Films has a mission to produce queer-themed movies which can only operate virtually in the country’s increasingly authoritarian and state-sanctioned, virulently homophobic laws and in all likelihood, the films will not be screened in Egypt.

“HE LOVES ME”— Time Alone Together

“He Loves Me” Time Alone Together Amos Lassen

“He Loves Me” is a feature film written and directed by queer filmmaker Konstantinos Menelaou and is about a gay couple who is convinced that a holiday away from the city will help mend and strengthen their rocky relationship. The two hitchhike to a remote seaside enclave, filling their days and nights with passionate lovemaking and making excursions into the rocky outcrops for sensuous times under the sun.
A narrator articulates their inner thoughts as they enjoy the sand and surf, but even in this golden paradise, the doubts that they wanted to leave behind catch up to them, taking the to an emotionally charged confrontation that will either result in destruction of their already fragile relationship, or a chance to once again discover the spark that originally brought them together. We see sex being frankly depicted as the two men explore the unconventional nature of love and its ability to survive against the odds.
Is it even possible for nature to reveal their true essence and help them to change? Can these two wounded men who are traumatized, hurt, and desperate on a remote beach find a way back to some kind of innocence? Is there a way back to reality, back to love? “He Loves Me” is a romantic, poetic and sexually explicit exploration of modern gay love, and it is also  queer cinema at its finest and most authentic.
The film is a balance between fiction and documentary and looks at  the unconventional nature of love and its ability to survive against the fear of loneliness and the problematic lifestyle of a big city. Hermes and Shanuye know that their relationship is on the verge of collapse and so they dare to venture to an isolated beach where hey expose their feelings and release their emotions. Their reborn love might be too fragile to amend all the shattered pieces of their relationship.
Director Menelaou wants to create a new outlet of communication, which will allow himself and the actors to explore the key issues posed by the script and to offer the audience the chance to participate and further the dialogue when the film reaches its destinations.

“DEATH IN VENICE”— Lyrical and Controversial

“Death in Venice” Lyrical and Controversial Amos Lassen Luchino Visconti’s “Death in Venice” is a lyrical and controversial film that was based on the novel by Thomas Mann. A middle-aged heterosexual artist (Dirk Bogarde) is obsessed with a young boy who is staying at the same hotel as he is when suddenly Venice suffers a plague of cholera and the two meet.
Visconti was a gay man who was closeted yet an open secret—he thought he was in the closet when in reality everyone knew about his homosexuality and this is present in most of his films.
Death in Venice” tells the story of Gustave Aschenbach (Bogarde), an unconventional composer. Seeking rest and relaxation, he tries to find it in a tranquil Venetian coastal holiday resort, Grand Hôtel des Bains on the Lido. Unfortunately he does not find the peace he so desperately wants because of his distracting attraction of 15 year-old, Tadzio (Bjorn Andresen) who is also vacationing at the same resort with his family. To Aschenbach, Tadzio symbolizes the perfection of beauty and his initial attraction soon becomes an obsession.
When Aschenbach and the other tourists staying at the resort visit the city canter, they become aware that something is very wrong. Aschenbach makes the decision to leave but decides on impulse to stay on even though his life is in danger. He finds himself revitalized by the young and beautiful Tadzio. The film perfectly captures period detail with the result that the representation of 1910 Venice is totally pleasing. Dirk Bogarde gave a great performance that has since been considered as one of the greatest of any screen performances. Bogarde relies on actions rather than dialogue to capture the frail and old pederast.”

In Thomas Mann’s novel, “Death in Venice”, Aschenbach is an author, but Bogarde’s character is loosely based on the composer/conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) and the actor takes his appearance and details in the film from Mahler as well. Aschenbach came to Venice to finds peace but did not find it at all. Instead he is quickly caught up in his troubling passion for an androgynously beautiful adolescent Polish boy who embodies an ideal of beauty that Aschenbach has long sought.
Gustav Mahler’s 5th Symphony and the 3rd Symphony was adapted as background music for the film. Pasquale de Santis’s gorgeous cinematography and art director Ferdinando Scarfiotti’s glorious production designs convince you that no one would possibly want to leave Venice.
Is this just a romantic and tragic gay love story or a profound portrait of the artist as an old man and his inevitably doomed life, or the plague- destroyed quest after unattainable beauty and perfection?  Maybe it is all of them. Any which way, Visconti and Bogarde have come up with one of the cinema’s masterworks. But, this is not a particularly enjoyable cinematic experience even though it’s well-acted, well-accomplished and sensitive film. It is filled with somberness and its controversial with the author’s metaphysical musings on art. It is not possible to show on film the inner workings of a pederast’s lust for the beautiful young, Tadzio in a sailor-suit and blond locks. This is certainly an example of the book being a great read while the movie, even if intelligently done and with the right filmmaker doing it, decidedly pales when compared to the novel. But it is a work of great visual beauty.