Sydney Film Festival Review: 'Beauty'
The Cannes Queer Palm Award winner is moving, disturbing and, yes, beautiful.
We caught a preview screening of Beauty at the Sydney Film Festival. The film tells the tale of some next-level stalking; watching it is an intense experience to say the least. Beauty was the first Afrikaans language film screened at Cannes last year where it won the prestigious Queer Palm award. Under Oliver Hermanus' direction, it is a test in the limits of empathy that will have you squirming in your seat, covering your eyes and wanting to scream profanities at the screen.
The film follows François van Heerden (Deon Lotz) as his infatuation with Christian (Charlie Keegan) unfolds. It opens with François observing the babin' Christian from afar as he chats up a couple of ladies, igniting a dysfunctional bromance between the conservative repressed gay and the liberated metrosexual youth living in Apartheid-era South Africa.
The film is visually beautiful, constructed in a series of wide serene, but sometimes frustratingly static, shots. This does not make for easy watching with many silent scenes where we observe muted dialogue from afar. It does, however, enhance the sense of being trapped inside Lotz's head and builds up to the gnarly, goosebump inducing climax.
Beauty might have you constantly resisting the urge to yell, "someone move", "someone talk" at the screen but it will also have you empathising with the alarmingly common story.
Beauty opens in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne on 2 August, 2012.