Alexander "The Gay"?
Sir Anthony Hopkins narrates the otherwise gay play-by-play as Ptolemy, periodically hinting at our hero's preferences with matter-of-fact observations like, "It is said that Alexander was never conquered in his lifetime, except by Hephaistion's thighs." The film's man-on-man hedonism is presented subtly, more in hugs and longing looks than in steamy lip locks.
Over the years, three-time Academy Award-Winner Oliver Stone has taken some heat for his unconventional slants on such political figures as JFK, Nixon and Evita. But none of his controversial bio-pics has been nearly as inflammatory as Alexander, a homo-erotic adventure about the life and liberated times of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.)
Everybody learned in school that this magnificent Macedonian king had an insatiable urge to expand his empire eastward, but who had any idea that he had almost as unquenchable an appetite for mating with men? Whether Stone is trading in revisionist history or merely outing a known homosexual in these more tolerant times is open to debate, yet there's going to be less disagreement about the fact that the picture is a pretentious, three-hour mess.
Most such overblown costume dramas tend to tell you more about the times in which they were made than about the periods of history which they were presumably recreating. For instance, The Ten Commandments (1956), featured a toga'd Edward G. Robinson as a Hebrew slave overseer but still sounding a lot more like one of his trademark mobster characters when telling people the Biblical equivalent of "Go suck on an egg, see!" in that distinctive Lower East Side accent.
In 1955, audiences were asked to accept the idea of a swaggering John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. The Duke, sporting a Fu Manchu mustache, fake eyebrows and a greasy hairpiece, played the Asian invader with that classic swagger popular in Westerns and war movies made in that era.
Alexander suffers from these same sort of anachronistic biases, serving up scenario after scenario which bear no resemblance to what might have transpired over two millennia ago, unless the land was awash in same sex lust. The film stars Colin Farrell in the title role and Jared Leto as Hephaistion, his barely-closeted life partner. Although Angelina Jolie is only a year older than Farrell, she plays Alexander's snake-charming mother, Olympias, while top-heavy Rosario Dawson makes a lasting impression as Roxane, his neglected bride, but only by revealing her stripper-sized mammaries in a frustrating seduction scene.
Sir Anthony Hopkins narrates the otherwise gay play-by-play as Ptolemy, periodically hinting at our hero's preferences with matter-of-fact observations like, "It is said that Alexander was never conquered in his lifetime, except by Hephaistion's thighs." The film's man-on-man hedonism is presented subtly, more in hugs and longing looks than in steamy lip locks. But you can't help but notice when they bring on the dancing boys, instead of the dancing girls.
Oh, yes, the movie is about Alexander's military conquests, too, and at least Stone's battle recreations, sprawling mob scenes of bloody hand-to-hand combat, prove to be compelling. The big-budget production obviously paid painstaking attention to detail in terms of costumes and set design. Too bad the same can't be said about having the cast perfect their accents or about crafting credible dialogue or sensible subplots.
Alexander the Gay, another unconvincing conspiracy theory courtesy of Oliver Stone.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for war violence, nudity and sexuality.
Running time: 173 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers