The Dying Gaul

Critics Consensus

Though it has a fine cast, The Dying Gaul's plot feels calculated and too intellectualized.



Reviews Counted: 69

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,302


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.1/5

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Movie Info

An artist who compromises his work for money finds his heart and soul are also being toyed with by his new patrons in this drama. Robert (Peter Sarsgaard) is a playwright who has recently lost his longtime lover and business partner, Malcolm (Bill Camp), to AIDS-related illnesses. Robert has written a screenplay about their relationship, called "The Dying Gaul," and is interested in selling the project to powerful producer Jeffrey (Campbell Scott). However, while Jeffrey likes the script, he tells Robert that he's not about to spend money on a film about a gay couple -- though he'll give him one million dollars for the screenplay under the condition he turns the character of "Maurice" into a woman so the film will be easier to sell. While Robert is secretly appalled by the idea, he's also deep in debt and wants the film to be made, so he agrees to make the changes. Robert is soon invited into the inner circle of Jeffrey and his wife, Elaine (Patricia Clarkson), herself a talented screenwriter until their marriage put an end to her career. Jeffrey finds himself fascinated by Robert, and soon begins seducing him both physically and intellectually, while Elaine is also deeply attracted to him. As Robert and Elaine become close friends, she also begins pursuing him in on-line chat rooms, playing on his emotional weaknesses as she fashions a story of her own. The Dying Gaul was the first directorial credit for playwright and screenwriter Craig Lucas.

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Critic Reviews for The Dying Gaul

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (25)

  • The Dying Gaul isn't dead on arrival. But its death throes are only as interesting as the actors, characters and dialogue can make them.

    Dec 16, 2005 | Rating: 3/5
  • The film plays for keeps: It hurts and it doesn't back away from messy questions about art, commerce and conscience.

    Dec 6, 2005 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • The movie always feels as if it's on the verge of a major discovery. It ends without convincing us that any such discovery has been made.

    Dec 2, 2005 | Rating: C+
  • The Dying Gaul begins with a Herman Melville quote: 'Woe to him who seeks to please rather than appall.' Let them serve not as words of wisdom, but of warning.

    Dec 2, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • [E]xcept for some problems in the middle act, the movie is easy to swallow.

    Nov 23, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Like minimalist composer Steve Reich's prickly, tense music on the soundtrack, the movie itself is too often too intellectual, experimental and abstract.

    Nov 23, 2005 | Rating: C+

Audience Reviews for The Dying Gaul

Awesome film. The obsession and flawed characters are frightening!

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

Simply simply gorgeous gorgeous movie about well, the usual - love, lust, betrayal, integrity, Buddhist philosophy, dead lovers communicating through the internet, murder by horticulture. You know, the usual. It's also, of course, a subtle and snide satire on the movie industry, a passionate treatise on sexuality and sexual orientation, as well as a showcase of jaw-droppingly moving performances. Sarsgaard and Scott are completely un-self-conscious in their sex scenes. I feel bad giving it 4 stars because it was 5 for most of the way through, but the lack of closure on the ending really doesn't sit well with me. The alternate cut suffices, save for the out-of-place voice-over.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

just awful

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


This movie, based on the New York City-produced play, is taut and very well put together. It follows the story of Robert, a screenwriter trying to get his controversial, gay-themed script produced. Jeffrey is the executive who promises Robert he'll make the film if Robert decides to make some major changes to the script; changes that will test Robert's moral integrity. Jeffrey's wife Elaine, played by Patricia Clarkson, is a former writer herself and is struggling to maintain in her stale and monotonous marriage with Jeffrey. What follows is a story of seduction, deception and reflection on past tragedy. The story turns somewhat predictable and you see the ending coming from a mile away. But the good thing about this film is its life imitates art theme and the many angles you can see these characters from. Their story will compel you and Craig Lucas' script and directing will draw you into the world these these characters live in. The score for this film is very unusual and quite interesting. The cinematography is excellent, including the pool scenes and the silhouette office scenes.

Rico Zamora
Rico Zamora

Super Reviewer

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