Film Review: “Albatross”

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I was given the opportunity to view the newly released period drama, Albatross by Mosaic. This is the synopsis given by Mosaic, “Tables turn when a progressive biracial couple attends dinner at the imposing home of an unexceptional artist and questionable psychiatrist. By daybreak, they find themselves pawns in a cynical game that exposes the cracks in their facades.”

At first the plot seemed a bit like a Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner or Get Out meets Carol. The more conservative white couple shocked by the interracial couple’s relationship, let out a slew of what would now be called “micro-aggressions” towards Black character, Thomas. Racism towards those in interracial relationships gets parrelled with same-sex couples dealing with homophobia. These 1959 prejudices reflect social justice issues that we still have not moved past.

But the plot meanders from issue to issue, racism to homophobia to sexism to homophobia again to racism. Such issues are intersectional and the attempt to address them all is admirable. However, Albatross gets bogged down but all of these issues, making it difficult to tell what the film is truly about. In end, sexism and racism are brushed under the rug to focus on how homophobia ruins lives.

There’s also a metaphor about an albatross that someone killed. Dr. Lloyd Burke wants to figure out who did it. I found myself pretty confused about the albatross at the beginning of the film and by the end I lost interest. It seemed to be a metaphor for ending his same-sex relationship.

The cimatography in Albatross was beautiful. When Elizabeth and Thomas are driving to Lloyd and Carol’s house the audience is shown a bird’s eye view of the road with autumn leaves on the trees around them. It was stunning and got me in the mood for fall.

I also love the 1950’s aesthetic so it’s easy to get me into the visuals of 1950’s period drama’s. Carol wore a cute dress with a green bodice which looked rather tight, symbolizing feeling stifled in her marriage and by society. We see her painting teacups and tulips, symbols of domesticity, something that she is expected to focus on as a woman.

The LGBTQ+ representation was very typical of period-dramas. Dr. Lloyd Burke tragically isn’t with the love of his love because he decided to get a beard. Which is realistic for the time but I do get tired of seeing how frequently this happens LGBTQ+ characters in period drama especially since we do know that there were some queer men who were “confirmed bachelors.” I did think that Dr. Burke’s “patient” Kenneth was an interesting character, but we as an audience don’t get to see that many scenes with him.

Ultimately, I had an okay time watching Albatross. It did at least have good cinematography. At the beginning of watching, trying to figure out what was going on was enough to keep me engaged, but I lost interest in the plot during the last half. It seemed the message was that you should choose to be the person you love rather than hide who you are, but that was much easier said than done in the 1950s. So the message didn’t come off as very meaningful to me, since it just blames closeted LGBTQ+ people for their problems. But if you like dramas more than I do, especially for the scenery then you might enjoy it.

Albatross. David Keeley, Sarah Orenstein, Katherine Gauthier, and Romaine Waite. Dir. Myles Yaksich. 2022. Harbour View Pictures. Available on iTunes and Apple TV in the US and Canada.

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