Thank goodness this movie was nominated for some Oscars (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay) so that it was expanded from 11:50pm once a day to a full day’s run so I could see it finally! Gods & Monsters is not the kinds of movie everyone would think to pay full price for – but it’s also an extremely emotional, dense, fascinating movie. The film is based on a book about James Whale, most famous for directing Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Show Boat, and the Invisible Man. It portrays the dwindling life of a truly fascinating person, and a potentially fictional friend.
For the record, Ian McKellen is a god.
The title of the film comes straight out of the month of Dr. Frankenstein, and as the story twists through Whales famous creation and he infamous creation it depicts, it peels away layers of the labels “gods” and “monsters.” It’s quite beautiful.
Now, as of this writing I have not seen Blast From The Past, so I hope I don’t eat my words when I say that Brendan Fraser is increasingly more and more impressive. Outwardly, he seems to have been cast only for his imposing, even hulking physique – but he’s outstanding as Whale’s friend and gardener. Lynn Redgrave has a showy role as Whale’s housekeeper – she’s very good but next to Ian she’s practically Juliette Lewis. Did I mention that Ian is amazing?
I can’t remember the last time I was so emotionally pounded (as was my companion) by a film – oh, yes I can, it was Life is Beautiful. Before that it was….well, it’s been a while.
Some folks may bristle at the frank discussions of Whale’s life, loves, and lifestyle – but those who don’t have deserve a movie like this. I don’t know how anyone with a heart could condemn this tired, gentle, soulful director.
Kudos to the casting folks for reproducing the actors of Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein so eerily. The actress playing Elsa Lanchester is truly divine. Carter “Yummy” Burwell provides an unusually understated score – I’m not sure if I noticed it but he’s also king of his trade so…I would also like to mention that if the Academy continues to fail to recognize guys like Carter Burwell and Danny Elfman they will continue to devolve into writing bland and unmemorable music, thinking that since Randy Newman is getting all these undeserved Oscar nominations, that’s gotta be the way to go. Stop the devolvement of genius!
Gods and Monsters is a really lovely movie, eloquently written and deftly performed. Do go, won’t you?
MPAA Rating R for sexual material and language.
Release date 11/4/98
Time in minutes 106
Director Bill Condon