Login

The Hanging Garden Review

Image for The Hanging Garden

When Sweet William is 15 he's caught in a homosexual clinch with his best friend and sent away for sexual re-education. William strings himself up to a tree (Symbolically) where he's still hanging when he returns, a confident and openly gay twentysomething, to find his sister engaged to his old lover.

★★★★★

The prospect of witnessing a long-exiled gay man returning for his sister's wedding only to come face to face with the corpulent hanging corpse of his teenage self is not going to result in queues outside your local multiplex. But if you can forgive the self-indulgence of a debutant, this is an engaging and often darkly amusing study of repressed emotion and family angst.

Beaten by his father for not knowing the names of the flowers in his garden, 15-year-old Sweet William (Troy Veinotte) finds solace in food. But his life goes into freefall when his granny spots him having a midnight fondle with his best friend, and his mother (Seana McKenna) whisks him off to a neighbour for a little sexual re-education. Teased by his sister Rosemary (Polley), William strings himself up from a tree where, courtesy of a little screen magic, he's still dangling when the now openly gay twentysomething William (Leavins) returns to see his now grown-up sibling (Fox) getting hitched to his backyard boyfriend of years ago.

Naming your characters after flowers and then opting for colour schemes that reflect their personalities is beyond pretentious, but Fitzgerald just about gets away with this arch conceit by moving the drama along at a brisk pace. In the face of a whirlwind performance by Fox as the foul-mouthed, chain-smoking Rosemary, Leavins struggles to impose himself on the proceedings. Consequently, it's hard to identify with William, even though he's the only fully rounded character in a gallery of dysfunctional caricatures.

Otherwise, this is an ambitious attempt to bring a little visual imagination to an unusual tale, and the fact that Fitzgerald only narrowly fails to pull it off suggests he's one to look out for in the future.

This is an ambitious attempt to bring a little visual imagination to an unusual tale, and the fact that Fitzgerald only narrowly fails to pull it off suggests he's one to look out for in the future.