Title: Review: Christopher + His Kind Credit: Jacqui Stanford Movies Wednesday 17th August 2011 - 3:10pm1313550600 Article: 10737 Rights
From heady hedonism to the horror of Nazi Germany, Christopher and His Kind portrays the stark change in Berlin in the early 30s through the eyes of the writer Christopher Isherwood of A Single Man fame. Isherwood, who is brought to the screen by Dr Who's oddly handsome Matt Smith, is drawn to Berlin by his friend the poet WH Auden (played by Pip Carter). "I went because of the boys. For me, Berlin meant boys," Isherwood explains, although the viewer is left to suspect escape from his typically overbearing mother is also a reason for him leaving England. "You won't forget will you darling, that the Germans killed your father," she cooly states as she tries to convince him to stay. It doesn't work for the hedonistic Isherwood and he falls into the heavenly delights of Berlin through an underground gay club that is literally underground. It's all very naughty but in a jolly proper way. Except from the rough, heavy and very loud sex scenes of course. The writer meets a vivacious cabaret singer and wannabe actress Jean Ross, played marvelously by Imogen Poots, and they instantly form the type rentof firm friendship only gay men and over-the-top straight women can. She may act unassuming, but she seems to be the only person with any awareness of the threat the Nazi movement is posing. Isherwood is busy falling in love with a German street sweeper and all is pretty and lovely, until chilling shots of him watching Nazi thugs march by with flaming torches and heavy stomping boots underline a change in the film, from frivolous to frightening. The Nazi aspect of the story creeps in and ultimately falls into place like a bitingly red banner, or a 'virus' as a Jewish friend of Isherwood's puts it, leaving the writer unable to potter around leading his frivolous life any longer. He copes with street bashings, seeing an old lover in Nazi garb and Jewish people targeted. It is only when he sees a mountain of books, many classics among them, being burned in the streets, that it truly begins hitting home. Christopher and His Kind is not just full of beautiful men but also beautifully shot, with cameras placed in nooks and used in angles so intimate you feel you are in the room. It portrays the unfurling of the Nazis into power masterfully, as unassuming Germans go about their day thinking Hitler will be just another leader. As reality becomes all too present for the narcissistic Isherwood, he is left battling for the man he loves. And while the endings may not be perfect, like any true writer tale, nothing is left unfinished in this story. Christopher and His Kind is an alluring journey back to a rather forward place and time, which shows that while a little narcissism can be a lovely bubble to live in for a while, it's probably best to keep an eye on what is happening in the wider world.   Number 8 Films is presenting a screening of Christopher and His Kind at Rialto in  Auckland on Thursday at 6.30pm. If you're outside Auckland Sky's Rialto Channel is also screening the film. Jacqui Stanford - 17th August 2011    
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