Since I recommended Trans, its maker, Julian Goldberger, has gone on to make a few more films, one of which I have now seen: The Hawk Is Dying, from the novel by Harry Crews. It’s a mixed bag, ultimately, a pseudo-mystical mess, but not without a certain affect, and with gorgeous nighttime videography by Bobby Bukowski suggesting a cross between waking nightmare and dark, almost Southern Gothic fable.
Like Trans, the film is located in the State of Florida. The protagonist, George Gattling, operates a small automobile upholstering business; in his off-work hours, he is obsessed with hawks, a number of which have died during his attempts to train them. His autistic nephew, Fred, seems to have a profound, silent connection with the birds. Gattling lives with his sister, Precious (Rusty Schwimmer, heart-piercing), and Fred, who is her son and whom Gattling has raised with a father’s love after the boy’s biological father, upon discovering that Fred wasn’t “normal,” abandoned Precious and Fred.
Gattling captures a captivating red-tailed hawk, and tragedy strikes. Goldberger, assisted by Bukowski, conjures some powerful dreamlike imagery; but the visual and every other aspect of the film are compromised by the lead actor’s impassive face (even when he is supposed to be crying!), unnuanced rendering of a complicated character, and annoyingly perfect, even teeth. Paul Giamatti gives an atrocious performance that scarcely ever strikes a believable note.
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MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.