FILM REVIEW: ‘Postcards From London’ Puts a Spin on the Prostitution of Art

The 2019 Taiwan International Queer Film Festival runs from 8/15 to 8/25 in Taipei and from 8/28 to 9/8 in Kaohsiung. This film review is based on a complimentary media screening.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/08/15
By: CJ Sheu

2019 Taiwan International Queer Film Festival

After writer-director Steve McLean’s 1994 David Wojnarowicz biopic Postcards from America, his first fully fictional film follows Jim (Harris Dickinson), an “eighteen—I mean twenty-one”-year-old from Essex who arrives in Soho and is taken under the wing of four (“we used to be five”) debonair sex workers. Jim attracts the group, led by David (Jonah Hauer-King) and including dandies of Spanish, Italian, and French extraction (Alessandro Cimadamore, Leonardo Salerni, and Raphael Desprez, respectively), because he’s built like a Greco-Roman statue. (A photoshoot sequence to create Jim’s calling card offers ample proof.)

They call themselves raconteurs because what they sell isn’t just gay sex, it’s the post-coital conversation filled with witty banter and cultured allusions to art and artists of every medium and age. They spend their days immersed in books on art and artists (and artist gossip), and their highest aspiration is to become the muse to a famous painter. At the moment, they’re obsessed with Caravaggio.

Source: 2019 Taiwan International Queer Film Festival

It sounds like they’re commodifying artistic knowledge in addition to their bodies, but surprisingly the film is dead serious about art. When Jim completes his basic education, David throws a hypothetical scenario at him by describing a client and asking him to recommend a painting. Jim’s answer displays a moving insight into the client’s psyche and stage of life, and he recommends Caravaggio’s Flagellation of Christ, the perfect painting for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, this is the emotional high point of the film, and we’ve still got an hour to go.    [FULL  STORY]

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