Charlie David’s Shadowlands is a film that is, much like the filmmaker, difficult to pin down.
Author, screenwriter, producer, musician, actor, television host…David has worn many hats in his career, and his passion for LGTBQ storytelling has shone through at every step.
Which brings us back to Shadowlands.
Originally released as a three part mini-series in Canada, Shadowlands delves into the depth of folklore, mythology, and urban legend to tell three specific stories in a world where the paranormal overlaps with our daily existence. Each erotically charged story builds upon the last to create a film-scape with the emotional intensity of bel canto opera.
It all begins in the 1920s where a surgeon (Sean C. Dwyer) hosts a decadent, fetish-laden party at his home. He has become a mutated version of Narcissus, no longer content to stare at his own reflection. He is obsessed with perfection, and only the most beautiful are welcome to join him in his revelries.
When that perfection cannot be found, however, his most monstrous qualities emerge, and what begins with murder soon turns inward as he makes one final all-too-gory decision.
In the next segment, a gay couple in 1951, one of whom is a sailor in the Navy, take a camping trip and while out in the woods, discuss whether or not they’d like to open up their relationship, sexually, because they have to spend so much time apart. When a stranger wanders into their camp, their resolve is tested and in a twist worthy of a classic urban legend, the following morning, they wonder if the he had ever been there at all.
And finally, an artist (Charlie David) whose lover has died becomes obsessed with creating a life-like painting of him in a heart-wrenching version of the tale of Pygmalion and Galatea. His love pours onto the painting and so does his life force, seemingly, bringing the film to a tragic close.
It is interesting to watch and dissect the ways in which the films connect. A character who crosses over here, a magical painting that exists when it should not, all of these things work together to connect Shadowlands in an anthology film without a framing story.
Shadowlands is a beautiful film overall. From the sets to the costuming to the lighting, everything is visually stunning with beautiful textures. Likewise, the soundtrack of the film is almost infectious with songs by Michael Daniel Murphy.
The film is not without its foibles, however.
At times the dramatic settings and dialogue almost overshadow the story. That dramatic flair works for the hyper-emotional storytelling of the film, but at moments I almost felt removed from the scene trying to take in the words rather than the story as a whole.
Still, the cast is beautiful, the stories compelling, and by the end of the film I felt as though I’d taken a real journey with David and his cast.
Shadowlands is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s also available in a novelization also on Amazon. Check out the trailer below and give it a watch today!