Radiant Circus Screen Quest No1: DYING YOUNG (21 JUN).

SCREEN QUEST: Our new RADIANT CIRCUS Screen Quests started with DYING YOUNG

SCREEN QUEST No1: We started our new series of RADIANT CIRCUS Screen Quests – where we invite you to experience the best of London’s indie cinema scene with us – with the latest Schumacher screening by The Celluloid Sorceress at The Cinema Museum. Here’s our writeup.

Our first Radiant Circus Screen Quest: DYING YOUNG at The Cinema Museum (20 JUN).

DYING YOUNG (d. Joel Schumacher, 1991)

Framed by The Celluloid Sorceress in her expert intro at The Cinema Museum as a “dark fantasy about love and death” DYING YOUNG plays out as just that: a baroque fairytale complete with red-headed “Beauty” – played by the glorious Julia Roberts – and an irrational “Beast” that’s either Campbell Scott (complete with occasional prosthetic makeover…) or cancer… take your pick.

Having set up the basic scenario – “working-class woman is employed to look after a wealthy male cancer patient” – the adventure of their ensuing romance then overflows with lost childhoods, absent fathers, mysterious butlers, subterranean lairs, enchanted cottages, haunted mazes and candlelit castles. In shot after shot by cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, Scott’s Victor Geddes is a one-eyed mask away from becoming the phantom of this “sax solos by Kenny G” opera.

Of course, the explicit scenes of chemotherapy’s aftermath, the coercion inherent to the plot and uneven backstories in the script make this an uncomfortable watch at times, but having been keyed into the Grimm archetypes and fantastical production design, everything slots into place. And just becomes curiouser and curiouser… It seems Schumacher couldn’t resist coming back to the story of a wealthy, cave-dwelling man-child battling his internal demons whilst struggling to connect with women… Is this the true precursor of the Dark Knight?

What remains clear is that this fascinating if flawed film is exactly the sort of experience we’re looking for from our new Screen Quests: a visit to a venue that needs to be much better known, passionate expert independent curation, an intro that sets everything up in new light, and an eye-opener of a film. Follow it all with warm debate about what on earth just happened, and we’re hooked….

Thank you to everyone who joined us last night and stayed to discuss the film with the Sorceress.

> Let us know your views of DYING YOUNG over on Facebook (search ‘RADIANT CIRCUS’).

We hope you’ll be able to join our next quest, because cinema should always be social.


  • The Schumacher season continues at The Cinema Museum with FLAWLESS (18 JUL) – use our exclusive RADIANT CIRCUS discount codes to save yourself some money at the Box Office.*
  • Be the Sorceress’s friend on Facebook and follow her on Twitter before reading our recent interviews with Rebecca Nicole Williams about her film life and work – Part 1 & Part 2
  • Discover the many treasures of The Cinema Museum, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Search ‘RADIANT CIRCUS’ on Facebook to join our next quest.
  • Pick up the DYING YOUNG DVD and that Kenny G infused Soundtrack CD at the big river.**

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