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Based on 19 Reviews
critic reviews (10)
fan reviews ( 1 )
  • 75
    Peter Travers Rolling Stone

    You wind up caring deeply about the affair that began in the 1950s between American teenager Don Bachardy and three-decades-older Christopher Isherwood, the noted British author whose "Berlin Stories" inspired "Cabaret." show more

  • 100
    San Francisco Chronicle

    This is the portrait of a marriage as full and enviable as the greatest unions in literature. show more

  • 75
    Carrie Rickey Philadelphia Inquirer

    In part, the documentary answers the question of why some couples flourish and others flounder. show more

  • 90
    Kirk Honeycutt The Hollywood Reporter

    Even a klutz could hardly make a bad movie about these compelling figures. Thankfully though, Guido Santi and Tina Mascara are superb filmmakers, fully alive in their terrific film Chris & Don: A Love Story to all the undercurrents of art, social class, sexual orientation, challenging relationships and, most especially, the touching love story at the heart of their film. show more

  • 88
    Chicago Tribune

    A fascinating documentary, one much better than its rather flat and unimaginative title. show more

  • 75
    Kyle Smith New York Post

    An affecting and beautifully realized documentary. show more

  • 63
    Wesley Morris Boston Globe

    As loving and welcome as Chris & Don is, it's not well enough conceived to create equilibrium among its many parts. show more

  • 67
    Kimberley Jones Austin Chronicle

    It closes the film in what I suspect was intended as something of a happy ending, but it’s unnecessary: Thirty happy years should be happy ending enough. show more

  • 83
    Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly

    Their love story was inevitably complicated. And so is the documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story -- not simply a love letter to love -- by Guido Santi and Tina Mascara. show more

  • 100
    Ann Hornaday Washington Post

    A celebration -- of love, commitment and devotion until the bitter end. Gay and straight viewers alike are sure to be inspired by this lyrical testament to a corollary of Tolstoy's famous dictum: Every unhappy family might be unhappy in its own way, but every genuinely happy family is a triumph. show more

  • January 20, 2009 moyuraxmi49
    Report This User

    On February 14, 1953, Don Bachardy (18) meets his brother's lover Christopher Isherwood (48) on a beach in California and, unbeknownst to both parties, are locked in for life - a life that would enlarge into creative soars for a portrait artist yet to know his calling and an established author awaiting his eternal subject. Yet the film is not about two symbiotic muses, feeding off each other to produce art, but rather art as an imperfect yet capacious tomb where time may pause, souls embalmed and longings stilled. The documentary, much like its own subjects, is the act of reinforcing memory with creative proofs, which, in the process of their making, inspire more memories than any paper/celluloid can hold. A sketch of a gnarled Chris, haggard in his cancerous boniness, opens the smell of the author, the smell of the ink-then in the ink-now, and the taste of that morning in this morning. It is a story of an artist drawing an author and an author writing his muse into immortality, pari passu. Amid this Edenic coalescence breathes the quiet defiance of a ritual-weary, mid-aged Chris Isherwood against prescribed and age-aware heteronormativity. And Humbert Humbertish it all was in many ways as brutally young, sun-sinewed Don, calling himself "an unconscious impersonator," star-struckly serves as Chris’ substrate, replicating his accent, his Cheshire mannerism and sparse diction. Eclipsed by Chris’ superluminosity, Don confesses, "I wanted people to like me for who I really was but I wasn’t sure myself who I was. The only thing I knew that I was good at was drawing people.." And draw he did and with it came the urge to break free from the only lover he had known. Chris' enabling of Don's art pushes the latter to gauge and outrun the cost of unequal sexual experience with his seasoned, three-decade-distant partner. All Chris wants is for Don to come home at the end of the day after his shenanigans. Which he does in the late 60s. (Sometimes.) Don eventually comes back for good to draw Chris, and Chris only, in the last few days of his life, chronicling the coming of his death piecemeal in a preemptively elegiac set of sketches. Isherwood bares his all, his full, bleak nakedness in sacred singularity with his scribe. For Don's furious fingers, each tender stroke is prayer for bonus time. Chris dies; Don spends the day drawing his corpse lest memory alone betray. There is everything lyrical about these last soul-jolting images of depleted youth, the shameful, stark shriveling of the body, the lovely grotesqueness that only death can do. Santi and Mascara cast them against Don's feverish workouts at the gym and close the story with the lithe-withered artist in his solitary atelier where all that is left are drawers of pictures and shelves of books in poetic time-still, all the company a man has shored for a night to allay "the foul rag and boneshop of the heart." Sabrina Sadique Cambridge, MA

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