The Dying Gaul starts with Robert Sandrich (Peter Sarsgaard,) a screenwriter with a lot of talent but no credits. He writes a screenplay about the death of his lover, Malcolm, from AIDS, and starts looking for someone to produce it. Producer Jeffrey Tishop (Campbell Scott) reads the screenplay thinks it’s brilliant, but that a story about a gay relationship won’t sell. He offers Robert $1,000,000 for it, but only if Robert changes the couple in the story to a straight one. Robert is reluctant to do it, but needs to money and agrees to make the changes.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey introduces Robert to his wife, Elaine Tishop (Patricia Clarkson), a failed screenwriter herself, who takes an interest in Robert’s screenplay and asks the read the unedited version. Elaine and Robert start to become close, even as Robert begins an affair with Jeffrey, who is bisexual. Robert casually mentions to Elaine that, since the death of his lover, he’s taken to visiting internet chatrooms because the “disembodied voices” on them make him think of souls in the afterlife, a comforting feeling as he copes with the loss of his partner. Elaine finds the chatroom Robert uses and through it discovers his affair with her husband. She creates a plot for revenge: she finds out about Robert’s life with his dead lover Malcolm, creates an account on the chatroom, and starts impersonating Malcolm, making Robert think he’s talking to Malcolm’s reincarnated soul. Robert finds out and enacts his own revenge, poisoning Elaine for taking advantage of his grief.
“Saarsgard, Scott and Clarkson are outstanding”
— Mick LaSalle, The San Francisco Chronicle
“A small, self-contained gem of incisive writing, superb acting and rich, expressive visuals.”
— Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
“A lurid and suspenseful thriller.”
— Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
Did You Know?
Craig Lucas was a well-known and respected playwright before making The Dying Gaul, which is his debut as a film director. He had done some screenwriting work early in his career, but became frustrated with the commercial demands of film studios and producers and shifted his focus to theater. The film premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where Lucas was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Review our Gay Themed Films Here