Designed more for train-wreck gawkery than psychological illumination, Tom Kalins garish melodrama applies icehouse style to hothouse material: the 1972 murder of socialite Barbara Daly Baekeland, former wife of the heir to the Bakelite fortune, by the grown son shed taken to fucking to cure his homosexuality. From the life-preserver clinging of his culture-vulture mom (Julianne Moore) to the contempt of his aloof playboy dad (Stephen Dillane), young Antony Baekeland was molded from birth into a sexually confused, neurotic mamas boy (played as an adult by Eddie Redmayne). His standing as his mothers de facto husband led inevitably to incest, violence, and a grimly redundant self-suffocation; in Kalin and screenwriter Howard A. Rodmans hands, his downfall becomes a glossy travelogue with stops in Paris, Majorca, and London (where a fateful kitchen knife awaits). This marks Kalins first feature in the 15 years since his queer-cinema landmark Swoon, a grave, provocative retelling of the Leopold and Loeb case. This, by contrast, is a tawdry nighttime soap that marvels without insight at its characters despicable behavior: It squanders a major performance by Moore, who rips into Barbaras confrontational mania, maternal perversity, and all-consuming need with nail-clawing fury and no small amount of malicious humoras when she tries to quiet her increasingly agitated son/handjob recipient with a sharp Inside voice!
June 25-July 3, 2008