Six aging Belgian cabaret actors whose dazzling youthful days are behind them, take part in the production Gardenia, directed by famed director of contemporary dance, Alain Platel (co-directed with Frank van Laecke). It is possibly one of the most spellbinding modern productions of late.
Art and personal liberation. How to reflect and project who we are on the inside to the world, and find acceptance? Aging and love. Before the Last Curtain Falls takes you through the gamut of emotions — joy, despair, disillusionment and triumph — via these professional and amateur actors lives. That the stories revolve around gay, transvestite and transsexual women and men feels timely and important yet ultimately minor amid the universal themes it addresses.
Interweaving their engrossing real lives with their final Gardenia performance (two years, 200 performances), Before the Last Curtain Falls seamlessly shares the casts’ very different stories.
Danilo is elegant and affable even as he cleans away “mayonnaise” at a window brothel while reflecting on his past as a prostitute and discussing his current affair with a closeted gay man.
Rudy is warm and generous. He works as a nurse, nurturing babies who are facing serious health setbacks. His second passion is his glamorous past — and now present — as a cabaret performer.
In her youth, statuesque beauty Vanessa [photo above] was a drop dead gorgeous showgirl with a flawless body – she’s still striking today. She longs for the romantic sexy life she once had. And, as many beautiful women fear, she worries that aging has rendered her invisible — as in Hot Docs film Penthouse North.
Gerrit remains disheartened by love affairs that ended in betrayal. Sadly, he has outwardly — and reluctantly — returned to his life as a man to stave off the threat of harassment that often comes when one lives as a woman. And bold Andrea went into surgery (at 40 something years old) as “Julius Caesar and left as Cleopatra.” She’s now running for mayor when not performing.
The cast of the film are so endlessly interesting and likable that in this day of docu-series – the classy reality show — one could imagine a few of them taking their elegant larger-than-life personalities on to greater fame beyond the stage.
Engrossing, illuminating, fun and beautifully filmed, Before the Last Curtain Falls leaves you honoured that these brave women and men have shared pieces of their eventful lives with us (the world). It is a special must-see doc.