I resisted seeing this film at first, but agreed to see it at a second run house with a group of people. At the film's conclusion, I found that I liked it much more than any other person I went with. I found "Gods and Monsters" to be a thoughtful, intelligent, sensitive-yet-harsh study of later life and the reflections one experiences as death approaches. I was also very pleased to see the film draw Whale's Great War experiences into focus (although in less detail than I would have liked), and make them the central point to his life and career, and, as he is dying, his misery. The rather exquisitely torturous method of his wasting lends veracity to his ultimate actions. The film is also an excellent rumination on the vagaries of fame, artistic or professional control of one's work, and the value of work. Whale also bitterly recalls his youth and the feeling of being trapped in the English caste system in several scenes during a prior "family values" generation.
The film is well-filmed but slow in spots, contains some cliches or scenes that are too "easy", but is highly rewarding, and is driven by excellent performances from Redgrave and McKellan and, to a lesser extent, Fraser. The film's final scene is great, too. I eagerly awaited the premiere of "The Thin Red Line", and having seen it, I would say that this film addresses the issues of individual humanity, social decay, and the horror of war much better. This film should be an Oscar sleeper. 8* out of 10*.
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