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Originally, I thought this would be a film of gay man versus straight man. It is. But much more than that, it is a film that speaks of human strengths and weaknesses, one that studies with quirky charm and quiet strength the scenario of man versus man.
Without getting maudlin or preachy, "Gods and Monsters" goes about telling its story about ignorance, frailty, and unconditional love, the very themes that ran throughout most of James Whale's life and films.
Bill Condon has created a poetic masterpiece, a wonderful answer to the question "Can't we all just get along?". Ian McKellen as James Whale is fascinating and absorbing, his facial expressions and body movements mesmerizing. He does not give a stereotypical "queen" performance. Rather, his James Whale is a dignified, yet tortured man. Lynn Redgrave is comical for the most part as Whale's maid, though she does lend a certain down to earth quality. It is Brendan Fraser, though, who steals this film. As Clay Boone, Fraser holds his own in McKellen's formidibal shadow. He does not provide a stereotypical performance either. Boone prooves to be as dignified and monstrous as Whale.
The few problems I had with the film where two gimmicky scenes, one showing Boone's surrender to a request of Whale's that he pose "like a statue", the other a dream sequence that has Whale walking among his fallen comrades in the trenches of World War one, and one flashback on the set of "Bride of Frankenstein", a scene tainted by Arthur Dignam's awful portrayal of Ernest Thesiger.
Eventually, "Gods and Monsters' proves two things: that we are all at once superhuman and sub-human, and that Hollywood can still show this in a beautiful way.
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