Fresh from David Lambert comes Beyond The Walls. An intense drama focussing on the co-dependent relationship of Paulo (Matila Malliarakis). and Ilir (Guillaume Gouix). Beyond The Walls charts an intense sexual relationship and was officially selected during Critic’s Week at Cannes.
Paulo first meets Ilir in the bar where he works. When Ilir offers to take Paulo back to his flat because he is too drunk to get home, they find the attraction almost too much to bear. Despite an initial hesitation the two grow closer and experiment in a sensual world neither knows much about.Whilst at first they fill their days getting to know each other’s bodies and pushing their own limits and boundaries, the intensity of their relationship eventually becomes too much. Manipulation, emotional abuse, drugs and ultimately jail lie in wait for their future.
Alright, it may sound overblown, and it would be were it not for Lamberts terrific handling of the narrative. This is a thought provoking and intelligently executed piece raising questions as to the real nature of love and the ties that bond people when ultimately their lives are heading further apart forcing you to wonder ‘at what point does love end?’
There are shades here of Keep The Lights On and Weekend, and Beyond The Walls certainly holds up to that calibre of filmmaking. Gouix and Malliarakis do an exemplary job of developing their characters and keeping them from crumbling under the weight of the narrative; the supporting cast are also terrific in more minor roles.
The prison scenes in particular are fantastic; fundamentally they symbolise the claustrophobia that emerges from the captivity of unhealthy co-dependency. The scenes are brutal and pull no punches at symbolising the personal destruction that being in such a relationship may lead to. It’s breath-taking.
The film does of course have its weaker moments where the narrative slows which impedes the dramatic precedent, however these moments are so few that it hardly has an impact on the quality of the film. What the film would benefit from is further development of the supporting cast, as, in the case of Paulo’s casual partner, there is a potential goldmine of psychology to explore in terms of a person’s ability to overlook their partner being in love with someone else. The scenes between Paulo and his occasional lover have a great deal of promise that is never fully realised. That said, there is plenty in the way of emotional intensity to explore between Ilir and Paulo, so you won’t feel bereft of drama.
Beyond The Walls may sound wholly depressing, but actually it isn’t. If anything the subtle maturity of the conclusion carries the vaguely positive message that ‘it isn’t the end of the world’; to avoid spoiling things, I’ll let you discover what ‘it’ is for yourself. The conclusion is beautifully acted and directed and is a graceful and poignant lament on the things that were, but also wisely acknowledges the ever changing nature of life as we progress in to our futures.
Beyond The Walls is a terrific piece of filmmaking, and, whilst perhaps not a ‘classic film’, it stands up with the recent (and rare) examples of highly sophisticated LGBT cinema. If this is the way LGBT cinema is heading, then we can all look forward to the future of the industry.
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