François van Heerden (Deon Lotz) is a middle-aged man from South Africa who appears to have the perfect life. However, after a closer look, it becomes clear that François is not only deeply depressed and dissatisfied, but also excessively detached from his surroundings, as well as his own emotions. Living in Bloemfontein, the man runs a business that no longer seems to fulfil him and is also married with children. His wife, Elena (Michelle Scott), is fairly reasonable and understanding, and is trying to rekindle the love between them. Despite her efforts, François’ marriage is worn-out, tiresome and seems to be going through a dry spell.
What soon transpires is that the businessman is openly and resolutely homophobic, but also racist. His vitriolic remarks are not easy to digest for those around him, yet they are almost always excused. Everything changes for François when he decides to visit his daughter, Anika (Roeline Daneel), and to attend one of her parties. There he meets the young and quirky Christian (Charlie Keegan), whom he learns is the son of a former friend of his. It doesn’t take long for François to become genuinely obsessed with Christian, as the entrepreneur is actually gay himself.
François becomes consumed by his relation to the young man, followig him wherever he goes and snooping on his discussions with other people. All the while, he has regular sex with white men (despite his racist background) and other married lovers. However, something profoundly troubling happens to François when he learns that his new crush, Christian, is showing affection to another male friend.
“A secret obsession that inevitably leads to tragedy is presented in a film moving at a pace and according to a poetry wholly at odds with the life of its main character.”
— Celluloid Paradiso
“Visually alluring and atmospherically seductive.”
Did You Know?
The director of Beauty (Skoonheid) is passionate about the current filmmaking landscape in South Africa and decided to create this motion picture in order to bring more awareness towards this gem of cultural cinematography. Oliver Hermanus also admits that Hitchcock was a decisive influence when producing Beauty (Skoonheid), as well as Thomas Mann’s brilliant Death In Venice. Review our Gay Themed Films Here