The Angelic Conversation (1987)
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Critic Reviews for The Angelic Conversation
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Audience Reviews for The Angelic Conversation
Effectively dropping two lovers into a mystical landscape and layering in some of Shakespeare's re-contextualized sonnets in order to portray a near-universal gay journey from internal struggle to self-acceptance and (hopefully) love, The Angelic Conversation exists in that plane of hyper-awareness you occasionally stumble into unintentionally, where the state of being is obvious and almost tangible, the unconventional filmmaking allowing for a dreamy celebration of love that is both obscure in construction and simple in narrative. Although the description makes it sound like an unbearable parody of an art film, it's a largely thrilling piece of filmmaking that amounts to a lovely experience, and as a representation of a world in which gay love can exist freely, even with the threat of violence always sitting in the peripherals, it couldn't be more important to a specific sector of the population who may not believe it possible.
I think everyone can agree that Judi Dench is one of about five actors who can make reading the dictionary exciting. So, it's amazing to hear her read some of Shakespeare's sonnets in Derek Jarman's film "The Angelic Conversation." Sadly, that's the sole highlight in a movie definitely lacking in coherency about the struggle of two men(Paul Reynolds and Phillip Williamson) trying to find each other in a cruel and harsh world, guarded over by radar towers. The symbolism is interesting but it just goes to prove that you need more than love to keep a movie going.
Jarman's painterly eye and technical ingenuity are utilized to good effect here in this characteristically elliptical film that uses some of Shakespeare sonnets (narrated by Judi Dench) as its starting point. With stop-motion effects, strange tableaux of eerie landscapes and a similar slew of Jarmanesque imagery, the black-and-white pictures processed on video lend the film a translucent and romantic air that is perfectly complemented by Dench's rich velvety intonations.
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