Chris & Don: A Love Story

Rated 4.0

Promotional materials for Tina Mascara and Guido Santi’s documentary Chris & Don say it belongs to the new canon of “Sophisticated Gay and Lesbian Cinema.” That’s putting it archly, but why not? In retrospect, the complex and mutually enlightening companionship that developed between aristocratic British novelist Christopher Isherwood and painter Don Bachardy, originally a SoCal bumpkin 30 years the author’s junior, seems positively archetypal. As friend John Boorman, the English filmmaker, observes in what amounts to a tidy little FU to today’s Prop. 8ers: “Of all the people I came to know in Los Angeles, their marriage was the only one that endured.” The film treats them warmly without whitewashing. On DVD, it comes with a booklet containing seven arresting Bachardy portraits of his partner and one of himself.