Writers: Paul Cox, Bob Ellis
Starring: Norman Kaye, Alyson Best, Chris Haywood, Werner Herzog, Julia Blake
Duration: 88 mins
Directed by: Paul Cox
Paul Cox’s breakthrough film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and is considered a masterpiece of Australian cinema.
Charles Bremer (Norman Kaye), a reclusive collector of paintings, sculptures and other rnore delicate works of art, such as rare flowers and naughty postcards, each Wednesday takes Lisa (Alyson Best), an artists’ model, to his sumptuous house and pays her handsomely to do a striptease to the ‘Love Duet’ from ‘Donnizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor’. He then leaves quickly and plays the organ alone in the church across the road from his house.
Charles we learn, has not always been rich and is currently in therapy; a part of which is to write, daily, a letter to his dead mother describing in euphemistic terms his growing obsession with his “little flower”, Lisa the model.
Her boyfriend, David (Chris Haywood), a failed painter, once successful and famous, but now addicted to cocaine., is convinced that daily he is making conceptual breakthroughs with his swift ugly canvasses. He treats Lisa as a sexual convenience and a source of money to serve his addiction. Lisa finally leaves him for a no less savoury arrangement with Jane, her lesbian fellow art student.
It is obvious from Charles's dream-life that his mother loved him, but in the name of love she smothered him, and sent him against his deeper wishes. During the course of the film, we slowly learn the source of Charle’s little sexual ritual; its effect on the ambitions of David and his eventual complex fate.
Man of Flowers is both erotic and richly amusing, with a tragic after-glow. The essence of the story is the confrontation between modern art and traditional art; or between modern love and traditional love; or even between modern life and traditional life. The old world meets the new world and only the old, traditional world has any substance.