Christopher and his kind (2011)

In based on novel, BBC, film, new, period drama, Review on 01/07/2011 at 6:42 pm

Christopher Isherwood wrote a novel about his experiences in Berlin in the 1930s: a young, rich, aristocratic novelist runs away from his mother to Berlin. For the boys. He arrived just before Germany went Nazi and has a marvellous time falling in love with beautiful lads who are in the game for the money. He knows that most of them are likely to be straight but he can’t help himself. As Nazism grabs hold of Berlin, Christopher is slow to recognise its implications and consequences, something he’ll end up feeling guilty about when he is older and a successful novelist.
This film makes you want to read the book. This is a good thing but not necessarily a compliment. First of all because it shows that the film doesn’t do the story justice: they really should have done a miniseries. The characters and surroundings are more than fascinating enough for at least four episodes and besides, there are serious time gaps towards the end and it makes you wonder what happened in between.
Surely the most charming thing about this production is actress Imogen Poots as the mature beyond her years and somewhat extravagant night-club singer Jean Ross, who becomes Christopher’s best friend.  She says delicious things like “I’m practically antique. I’m nearly twenty-one.”

The most disappointing thing about this film is Christopher himself. Not the novelist mind, the actor Matt Smith who plays him. While recognising that is very difficult to create a great character based solely upon the narrator of a story (there is no writer behind it who pre-created the personality for the actor: they have to do it all on their own), this character simply doesn’t come to life. From a casting point-of-view he is a logical choice: he looks sort of ageless and isn’t too pretty yet attractive enough. I found him unconvincing and would have preferred to see par example Benedict Cumberbatch play the part. For Smith’s sake I do hope some people disagree with me.


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