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Chris and Don: A Love Story (2007)

Today’s cinema adventure: Chris and Don: A Love Story, a 2007 documentary detailing the 34-year relationship between acclaimed writer Christopher Isherwood and his life partner, artist Don Bachardy.  Practicing documentary filmmaking at its finest, directors Tina Mascara and Guido Santi piece together the remarkable shared life of the couple while also presenting a portrait of each man individually, utilizing footage and narration from surviving partner Bachardy, excerpts from Isherwood’s diaries (read, appropriately enough, by Michael York, who portrayed the author’s alter-ego in the film version of the musical Cabaret, based on Isherwood’s Berlin Stories), interviews with various friends and archivists, and copious home movies and photographs of the couple’s life together. The relationship, which began when the 48-year old British expatriate author met the 18-year old Los Angeles boy on a beach in Santa Monica and defied the odds- and the cynical expectations of the pair’s acquaintances- to endure until Isherwood’s death in 1986, is presented with a restraint and an objective journalistic detachment which preserves the dignity of its subject matter and results in a cumulative emotional wallop, leaving the viewer moved and uplifted by the triumph of an unlikely love. Documentary purists may quibble over the occasional use of re-enactments to depict key moments in the relationship (presented only in brief, out-of-focus snippets without dialogue) and animations derived from Isherwood’s fanciful sketches from his correspondence to his partner, but these touches do nothing to alter or affect the facts presented. Though the film depicts the lives of a gay couple, it is suitable for all audiences; and anyone who watches it is bound to be, as I was, filled with admiration for two people who disregarded social prejudices from every direction and inspired by their success at building a love to last a lifetime.

About jpkcinemaadventures

Reviewer for the Los Angeles Blade. Not just a writer who loves film, a film buff who loves to write.

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