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The Dying Gaul
The Dying Gaul
Actors: Peter Sarsgaard, Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson, Ryan Miller, Faith Jefferies
Director: Craig Lucas
Genres: Drama
R     2006     1hr 41min

A gay screenwriter becomes involved with a studio executive (and unknowingly his wife), as the executive tries to convince him to rewrite a homosexual relationship. — Genre: Feature Film-Drama — Rating: R — Release Date: 1-AU...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Peter Sarsgaard, Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson, Ryan Miller, Faith Jefferies
Director: Craig Lucas
Creators: Campbell Scott, Craig Lucas, David Newman, George VanBuskirk, Joel Posner, John A. Machione, Joseph Caruso
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/21/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Peter Sarsgaard. Remember his name.
Laurie Eckhout | Juneau, AK USA | 02/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I managed to get a "For Review Only" dvd of this movie. My initial interest in it was because Peter Sarsgaard was part of the ensemble. Anything he does will at least merit a stellar performance from him. Best case scenario is that the other players also live up to his standards. In "The Dying Gaul" Clarkson, Scott and Sarsgaard are equally matched in talent. They inhabit these characters so well it gives the sometimes 'unbelievable' storyline enough validity to allow the viewer to want to accept the circumstances, so you can follow the maze of their deeds to the finale without cynicism. It works. You eventually get to see these characters in a raw state, emotionally skewered and acting out in ways that don't happen in 'normal' circumstances. Sarsgaard especially is delightful to watch in his metamorphosis. His is the most emotive part. A big change from his understated role in "Shattered Glass." Scott's character has lived with part of himself hidden away all his life and Clarkson's character must hide the story defining secret she accidently stumbles upon, for most of the movie.
The odd title (Dying Gaul) is well explained at the beginning and has a broader role overall in the movie than at first glance. Pay close attention to the description of the sculpture it refers to. I think it ends up explaining Lucas' empathy for his characters at their best and at their worst.
Something I don't recall reading in any reviews of this movie is that at the end it seems as if Scott's character ends up eerily striking about the same pose as the Dying Gaul sculpture. Another thing to look for.
This is an interesting story and the visuals are great. What really seals the deal on this film overall is the excellent actors. Just to see those three in action is worth the price of admission.


Accountability and the Need for Passion in an Alienating Wor
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE DYING GAUL, written and directed by Craig Lucas (writing credits include 'Longtime Companion', 'Prelude to a Kiss', 'Reckless') is a brilliant little film that stirred comment and appreciation during its unfortunately very brief run in the theaters (as one of the film's characters comments "Most Americans hate gay people. If they hear it's about gay people, they won't go.") And this in a year when films such as 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Transamerica', and 'Capote' drew focus. As the oft used phrase states, 'Go figure'.

The story is a bizarre triangle of interaction among three very bright, enlightened, yet passionately isolated people whose coming together is the stuff of tragedy on the grand scale. Robert Sandrich (Peter Sarsgaard) is a grieving screenwriter (his lover recently died from complications of AIDS in a manner secretly gnawing at Robert). His most recent screenplay 'The Dying Gaul' about a gay couple - one with AIDS - is a tribute to his lover, and while it is a brilliant script and is taken on by a top film producer Jeffrey Tishop (Campbell Scott), Jeffrey offers to buy the script for a million dollars IF Robert re-writes the script to make the couple a heterosexual one (see above for his reason). Robert at first refuses to 'sell out' but eventually gives in and does the re-write. Jeffrey is married to a very bright ex-screenwriter Elaine (Patricia Clarkson) who reads Robert's script, loves the original and becomes so obsessed with the script and with Robert that she plunges into an investigation of Robert's life. Compounding the intrigue is the fact that Jeffrey begins to fall in love with Robert and Robert is so needy emotionally that he responds: the two become lovers. Elaine enters Robert's private life via chat room discussion where she poses as the voice of Robert's dead lover and inadvertently discovers secrets that eventually bring the trio to a devastating climax: secrets are revealed that demand accountability and each character is permanently altered.

Craig Lucas, in this his first directorial outing, proves to be an artist with style, with vision, and with guts to put tough material into visual form. The pacing is tense; the ideas are well developed from the meaning of the title to the cruelty of the machine mode means of conversation via email chat rooms. He handles sexuality variations as well as any director today. He of course is blessed with a trio of superlative actors: Sarsgaard, Clarkson and Campbell give extraordinary performances. The cinematography by Bobby Bukowski revels in the brilliance of the California sun at poolside as well as the eerie light from the computer screen in darkened rooms - further underlining the alienation that medium demands. And the crowning addition is a musical score by gifted composer Steve Reich (one of the finest of today's classical composers). THE DYING GAUL is a tough film but one that is so refreshingly dedicated to its vision that it scores as a major work. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, March 06
Hitchcock on acid
W. Parker Nolen | San Francisco, CA USA | 01/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"WOW! This film is what Alfred Hitchcock would have been making today. It's as dark and edgy as any Hitchcock film, but even more so - it's as if Hitchcock himself were on acid direccting far the best suspense thriller I have seen in a while. The screenplay and direcction are incredible and you are going to be on the edge of your seat at the end of this film, because just as soon as you beccome sympathetic to one charater, they do something so heinous that by the end of the film, there is no one to really empanthize with. All of the actors give outstanding performances, the cinematography is compelling - as it should be in a suspenseful film: very good use of day/night paralelling the evil/good each character presents. A MUST HAVE for any film collector."
Twisted Triangle of Deception Smartly Rendered Even When It
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 12/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A trio of superb performances ignites writer-director Craig Lucas's 2005 bludgeoning psychological thriller set in the deal-making, Machiavellian world of Hollywood filmmaking circa 1995. The plot focuses on an unconventional triangle - Robert is a young screenwriter who gets summoned to a meeting with Jeffrey, a powerful studio executive, who is very interested in adapting Robert's script into a movie. There's one catch - the script is a tribute to Robert's partner, who died recently of AIDS after going through painful medical treatments, and Jeffrey wants to change the story to a heterosexual love story to assure the movie has wider commercial appeal. With an offer of a million dollars upfront for the script, Robert begrudgingly accepts the change, but then he meets Jeffrey's wife, Elaine, who becomes drawn to Robert through his deeply felt script. Her attraction is platonic but increasingly obsessive. At the same time, Robert and Jeffrey become lovers, and the plot dives headlong into intriguing twists relating to Internet chat rooms and layering deceptions that lead to a fatalistic conclusion.

Once again proving to be one of our most audacious actors, Peter Sarsgaard brings a fearlessly fey quality to Robert that allows his character to harden as the encroaching deceptions envelop him. Looking very much the part of the patrician, artistically frustrated Hollywood wife, Patricia Clarkson gives her typically sharp, insightful performance as Elaine especially as her efforts to manipulate Robert backfire into her own unfolding, painful situation. What she does very well is show the vulnerability of her character regardless of her misogynistic intentions. With his stentorian voice used in an ideal context, Campbell Scott finally shows some of the fire of his late parents (George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst) in exposing the deviously powerful character of Jeffrey ultimately rendered powerless by the circumstances.

Although the movie takes advantage of Los Angeles locations, including a stunning hilltop home (complete with infinity pool, of course), it still feels very much like a play especially in Lucas's use of talking headshots and voiceovers to amplify the ennui of the chat room activity. Where the film goes somewhat awry is the series of developments in the last half-hour that lead to the ending where Robert's sense of paranoia brings certain facts to light and responses become increasingly contrived. Regardless, Lucas's gift for smart dialogue and the three performances lend credence to the wildly implausible developments. With the hoopla over the wondrous "Brokeback Mountain" (which I just saw), it will be interesting to see if Jeffrey's mercenary comments about the box-office poison of gay-themed films will remain true."