Postcards from London (Steve McLean, 2018)

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The type of queer film sure to set some of my friends’ teeth on edge: gloriously poncy, self-conciously pastichy, super-stylised, delightfully artificial, all about sex, beauty and art. Jim (Harris Dickinson) is an Essex boy who arrives in London to make his way in the world, ends up on the streets and becomes a rent boy. But not just any rent-boy, a high class one, part of The Raconteurs who service rich artists and intellectuals by offering them not only sex but informed conversation on art. The film’s London is a queer one of myth and legend seen through a particular lens, more Jarman, less McInnes. Jim goes from being a rent-boy to being a muse to becoming so sensitive to art he faints when close to the real thing, a service that ends up being very useful to auctioneers and antiquarians. Finally, Jim goes from being the talk of the town, the most beautiful boy in London, to an active agent, from being beautiful to creating beauty. Threaded through this narrative are discussions of art, of Dyer and Bacon,  of Caravaggio and baroque painting, of Fassbinder and Jarman, on the pleasures of reading Stendhal, the glories of the Colony Club etc. I can already hear some of you screaming but I loved it. The film’s Soho is sketched in through neon lights, a bit like the Girl Hunt number in The Bandwagon and is glorious to see, as of course is Harris Dickinson, for whom this is must have been a brave choice after Beach Rats.


José Arroyo


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