Before the Last Curtain Falls
When the Belgian stage production Gardenia opened in 2010 it was a massive success: playing over 200 shows in 25 countries. The show is as much a performance art piece as it is cabaret, starring older gay and trans performers. The film follows the cast through their final performance and beyond, as they attempt to adapt and reintegrate themselves back into regular society after their final heart wrenching performance at home in Ghent.
Director Thomas Wallner has shot a gorgeous documentary (the performance pieces look outstanding), but the film seems to lack forward momentum throughout. The focus is more on performance than storytelling. These performers have led interesting lives, so the filmmakers’ choice to show us the troupe as a whole outside of the show instead of focusing on some of their stories dilutes the overall impact and leads to a very superficial account.
The stage performance is brilliant, though, leading the audience to wonder how glorious a filmed version of the entire play would be compared to this documentary. Those sequences that make the film more than watchable, but the film would be better served with some more focus of vision. (Kirk Haviland)
Monday, April 28th, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 8:30pm
Tuesday, April 29th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, 4:00pm
Friday, May 2nd, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, 12:30pm