Picks and Pans Review: Bent

updated 12/08/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/08/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Lothaire Bluteau, Clive Owen, Brian Webber, Ian McKellen, Mick Jagger

Bent, the 1979 stage play that drew much needed attention to the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, has now been turned into a movie. Not very successfully.

In transferring the play to film, screenwriter Martin Sherman, who wrote the original play, and director Sean Mathias have failed to do enough to expand the stage-bound Bent. When they try, as with the debauched Berlin nightclub scenes early on, it all seems too, too Cabaret. Instead of Joel Grey, however, we get Mick Jagger, encased in a slinky, sequined red dress, matching lipstick and hanging from a trapeze high overhead, warbling a faux Brecht-Weill ode to "The Streets of Berlin." Then it's off to a concentration camp, where the movie's two main characters, both gay (Bluteau and Owen), move rocks from one pile to another and then back again. The movie's message, that it's better to die proud of who you are than live a lie, seems as thuddingly heavy as those rocks. (Ian McKellen, who played the lead role in the original London production, has an amusing cameo here.) (NC-17)

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