Great Performances (1971– )
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The Lost Language of Cranes 

When a young gay man comes out of the closet. His friends support him, but when he comes out to his parents, he stirs up a wealth of hidden feelings and secrets in their relationship.
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When a young gay may comes out of the closet. His friends support him, but when he comes out to his parents, he stirs up a wealth of hidden feelings and secrets in their relationship. Written by Kathy Li

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Biography | Drama | Music

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24 June 1992 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Painfully Bitter
31 March 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

With a sharp story, tremendous irony, brilliantly low key performances, and elegant direction and cinematography, THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES received tremendous acclaim when it debuted in 1992; a decade later it has lost but little of its original punch.

Based on the notable novel by David Leavitt, CRANES offers the story of Philip (Angus Macfayden), an attractive young Englishman who has fallen in love with the wealthy and manipulative American Elliot (Corey Parker)--and on the basis of that love decides to inform his parents that he is gay. But Philip's announcement precipitates a crisis that he cannot imagine: his own father Owen (Brian Cox) is homosexual, a secret he has concealed from wife Rose (Eileen Atkins) since their marriage. At the same time, Philip discovers the foundation of his love with Philip is considerably less stable than he thought, and suddenly all concerned in the story find their lives built on shifting sand.

The performances are what make the film work, and while Mcfayden and Cox have the showier roles (and are excellent in them), it is really actress Eileen Atkins who emerges as the powerhouse performer in the complex role of a woman who has deliberately lived in denial--and who must now respond to a double-whammy that undercuts the very foundation of her existence. Carefully controlled, Atkins delivers a flawless performance with incredible weight and realism.

The flaw in the film is the script, which tends toward a certain clinical, slightly artificial awkwardness from time to time, and although the film offers many interesting visual metaphors, it ties them so loosely to the overall story that it is often difficult to know to what these metaphors refer. Even so, THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES offers a powerhouse punch in its message of the need for honesty lest one be trapped into a way of living that slowly and but inextricably destroys the opportunities of youth--and leaves one with the bitter realization that the effort of keeping the lie alive has left one with little more than the lie itself. Powerful stuff; recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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