Chris & Don. A Love Story Movie Review

A wonderfully crafted documentary about a most unusual long-term relationship, Chris & Don. A Love Story chronicles a 35-year love affair that was way ahead of its time in all sorts of interesting ways. At a time when the concept of gay marriage is being fiercely debated, it's instructive to meet one couple who shacked up in 1952 and went full steam ahead.

Christopher Isherwood was one of the most prominent publicly homosexual personalities of his era. A successful writer from the 1920s on (he wrote the Berlin stories that evolved into Cabaret), he left his native England before World War II and crafted a nice life as a screenwriter and novelist in Santa Monica. It was there on a beach where Isherwood, age 48, came across 18-year-old local boy Don Bachardy and his older brother Ted. Both were gay, and both were quite ready to be welcomed into Isherwood's glamorous life. Don was the one who really captivated Isherwood, and they were soon living together with no secrets. If some observers thought they were actually father and son, then so be it.

Thanks to lots of home movies and the delightful reminiscences of Bachardy himself, we get a great sense for what it must have been like for this wide-eyed boy to suddenly find himself hobnobbing on movie sets with Burt Lancaster, enjoying his first transatlantic crossing and his first visions of Venice, and lunching on the veranda with the likes of E.M. Forster and Igor Stravinsky. A budding artist who was strongly encouraged by Isherwood to pursue his craft, Bachardy ended up sketching many stars of the time and is a successful portraitist to this day.

Of course, all was not perfect in paradise. As years passed, the two men had to legislate rules for carefully monitored infidelities, and Bachardy confesses to long struggles with inferiority complexes, problems that excerpts from Isherwood's famous diaries (read here by Michael York) confirm. Interspersed throughout are memories from celebrity friends, most notably a gracious Leslie Caron, who marvel at the ultimate strength of the Chris/Don bond.

The film is a chance for Bachardy not only to tie a neat bow on what has been a remarkable life but also to bring his beloved Chris back to life in a way. He shows piles of sketches he did of Chris as he faded away from prostate cancer in the mid-'80s, and we also get to see him indulging in his daily gym workouts and doing some nude portrait painting of handsome young men who come by his house to pose. Not bad for a 75-year-old! We also get a glimpse of Don's brother Ted who, nearing 80, has led a life ruined by mental illness. There but for the grace of God, opines Don.

The film's directors also include a few touches of delightful animation inspired by Don and Chris's pet personas for each other: a young cat being led around by an old horse. It's a playful and intimate way to take us even deeper into the private world of two gay men who chose to build a great life together at a time when few others dared to do so. Just ask Mrs. Rock Hudson.

Add some more hair on top.

Cast & Crew

Director : Tina Mascara, Guido Santi

Producer : Tina Mascara, Guido Santi, Julia Alexander,

Starring : , Don Bachardy

Comments

Chris & Don. A Love Story Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2007

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Dark Drama 'The Riot Club' Is Never Dull, But Lacks Bite

The Riot Club, formerly known as 'Posh' and based on Laura Wade's 2010 play...

Dark Drama 'The Riot Club' Is Never Dull, But Lacks Bite

Aphex Twin - Syro Album Review

If you're even remotely into electronic music, then you are more than likely to know who Aphex Twin is. After becoming...

Aphex Twin - Syro Album Review

Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams Set for Channel 4 'Cyber Bullying' Drama

Maisie Williams, best known for playing Arya Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones...

Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams Set for Channel 4 'Cyber Bullying' Drama

Reaper - Trailer

The Reaper (Mike Michaels) was formerly an ordained minister before embarking on a rampant killing spree with...

Reaper Trailer

Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows Talks Of Liberation, Fun And Childhood Fascinations

Counting Crows have delighted us with their first album release since...

Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows Talks Of Liberation, Fun And Childhood Fascinations

Ringo Deathstarr - Live Review

The Sabotage Club in Lisboa has all the trappings of the typical toilet circuit venue, if you were to disregard a decade...

Ringo Deathstarr supported by The Telescopes, NAAM,  11th September 2014, Lisboa Sabotage Club Live Review

'X-Men: Deadpool' Set For 2016, Ryan Reynolds Likely to Star

X-Men: Deadpool, a project that has long been in development for Twentieth...

'X-Men: Deadpool' Set For 2016, Ryan Reynolds Likely to Star

Ben Whishaw Lands Starring Role in BBC Thriller 'London Spy'

Ben Whishaw, the British actor who played Q in Skyfall and who portray the...

Ben Whishaw Lands Starring Role in BBC Thriller 'London Spy'

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke: The Best of Dolly Parton Album Review

Dolly Parton is an international treasure - and a rare breed, at that. She is a...

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke: The Best of Dolly Parton Album Review
Advertisement