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‘Postcards From London’ Review: Small Town Boy Becomes Big City Escort

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

Harris Dickinson, the talented actor who made such a memorable impression in last year’s “Beach Rats,” gets adored by the director Steve McLean’s camera in “Postcards From London” but it’s all for a purpose. Dickinson plays Jim, a working-class lad who moves to London and quickly falls in with a group of male escorts who cater to a very specific sort of patron. Calling themselves the Raconteurs, these young men know “your Goya from your Gogol, your Fritz Lang from your Fassbinder,” and specialize in sparkling postcoital conversation and intellectual debate with refined, wealthy, older male clients. Jim, who looks like he stepped out of a Caravaggio painting, fits right in.

Jim has a problem, however: He literally faints in the presence of great art. It’s a real psychological condition known as “Stendhal Syndrome,” whereby individuals experience rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and even unconsciousness after witnessing overwhelming beauty. Here, however, it’s treated more as a clever device to propel Jim into the paintings themselves, as he hallucinates himself and his friends posing for great artists.

As one might guess, McLean is not looking to offer a realistic depiction of life as a prostitute. Rather, he seems interested in exploring how beauty has been used and exploited over the centuries. The film’s elegant compositions themselves are painterly, with the actors carefully posed; and the atmosphere is theatrical, with crisp line readings and sparsely populated frames. Those elements, plus a meandering story line, may not make for a particularly involving narrative experience. But it sure is nice to look at.


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