Beautiful Darling (2011)
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Critic Reviews for Beautiful Darling
Darling's fragility was no secret, which gives even the movie's comical moments an underlying poignancy.
"Beautiful Darling" is sympathetic and critical, a sobering reminder in this fame-grabbing age of a time when gender politics, art and artifice could make for a turbulent identity cocktail.
Like fellow Factory figures Edie Sedgwick and Jackie Curtis, Darling now gets her own documentary, and proves a more than worthy subject.
A fairly besotted look, produced under the guidance of a longtime friend.
"Beautiful Darling" makes extensive use of photos, sketches and Darling's diaries belonging to Jeremiah Newton, a gay pal she lived with on and off until her death from cancer in 1974.
A sad, lyrical reflection on the foolish worship of movie stars.
Audience Reviews for Beautiful Darling
This is a documentary about the drag queen/transsexual performer Candy Darling, who was one of Andy Warhol's Superstars. Most of the film is relayed through interviews conducted by her friend Jeremiah Newton, who takes up almost all of the film as he mugs for the camera. I don't believe his sentiments are untrue to the spirit of Candy, but the film shouldn't have featured him so heavily. The film also provides a lot of footage of Candy in various films, backstage at comedy clubs, and there are voice overs (Sevigny) that read from her diaries. From the many interviews there's a decent enough picture of who she really was and what she wanted, but there wasn't a lot of context, historically speaking. For someone unaware of Warhol's oeuvre, this film is not very informational. There's no link between Warhol and Candy, except for when those interviewed express Candy's dependency on the icon for her continued fame. Otherwise it's unclear how Candy became Candy other than from the words of Newton. We don't know how she made it to New York, how she transformed herself, or what her relationship with Warhol was like. While these aspects of her story may not be what's important to understand her as a person, they need to be shown to the audience so we understand the film's narrative.
A documentary most-likely for pop culture enthusiasts only as this film is about female impersonator Candy Darling -- a frequent inhabitant of Andy Warhol's The Factory who also featured prominently in some of his "film" work with her most notable work being in two Paul Morrissey-directed films (Warhol-produced), Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971). Always dreaming of being a larger-than-life star, Candy Darling wanted to be an acclaimed actress and aspired to find the right role in a mysterious noir film in which Candy's true talent would be recognized and not marginalized as "that cross-dressing actor" many in the mainstream still joked about. We are so busy judging others based on who we think they should be we oftentimes forget those we chide are also human beings trying to find meaning and understanding themselves. Candy is a sad human being -- not because of who she was -- but because of how others believed it was their right to belittle her as they didn't want to understand her. Playwright Tennessee Williams wrote a piece for her off-Broadway that brought her some of the success she had so desired and craved; but it was short-lived -- as was she. Darling was diagnosed and died from lymphoma at the age of 29 -- a tragic star was a role to die for! This is an interesting piece as Warhol's celebrity circle prided itself on being different and unusual.
The most lasting aspect of the film for me is the enduring devotion of Candy's best friend, Jeremiah Newton. These many years later, he is still looking after her. Though the love story here many not be a conventional one, these are not conventional people. I've seen this three times, and it gets even better with each viewing. The soundtrack is perfect. Not too obtrusive, but always appropriate.
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