BFI Flare 2018: Postcards From London

B F I  F L A R E
L o n d o n  L G B T  F i l m  F e s t i v a l  2 0 1 8

"Set in a vibrant, neon-lit, imaginary vision of Soho, this morality tale manages to be both a beautifully shot homage in the spirit of Derek Jarman and a celebration of the homo-erotic in Baroque art. When teenage beauty and Essex boy Jim (Harris Dickinson) arrives from provincial boredom to seek his fortune, the promised cultural excitements of Soho prove hard to find. On his first night, he is robbed by a stranger, ends up homeless and is forced to sleep in a cardboard box. But with a word from a kindly security guard, he discovers a group of art-loving rent-boys who take him under their wing. The group exist to provide very special services for art connoisseurs – intelligent, post-coital conversation based on an intense knowledge and appreciation of the great masters. With his love of art history, Jim is a willing pupil, but his passion is impeded when he discovers he suffers from Stendhal’s Syndrome, a rare disease that finds him fainting in the presence of great art."

In future years, I'm going to look for a number of clues as to what films to avoid at BFI Flare: an introduction from Flare programmer Brian Robinson (he introduced the truly ghastly Departure in 2016), funding from the BFI itself (yep, Departure) and Peccadillo Pictures (uh huh: Departure).

For Steve McLean's Postcards From London, it's a hat-trick, with dear old Brian taking to the stage to introduce the feature, lots of cash from the BFI to make the thing, and the rights snapped up by Peccadillo, who will unleash it on unsuspecting buyers of DVD, Blu-ray and downloads later this year.

There isn't a trailer, or clips, 
for the film anywhere (that I could find, anyway): another bad sign.

There will be people who will love this movie. But there are also people who love Ed Sheeran. Personally, I just found it incredibly grating. The dialogue is artificial and wooden, matching lead Harris Dickinson's performance (mind you, look what he's got to work with). There are endless, tiresome debates about Caravaggio, and references to the likes of Derek Jarman (clearly an influence) and Fassbinder; specifically, Fear Eats The Soul, which only serves to remind you of what you could be watching. Sliding transitions, claustrophobic, stagey sets give away the fact that this isn't cinema, it's a clever-clever, self-satisfied play, the kind you walk out of at the first opportunity.

Guess what? I did.

Every year, KAOS reports from the annual BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival. This year, I'll be reviewing seven films. 


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