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“The Hours And Times” is a speculative queer Beatles drama

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Historical fiction can often fall into the trap of letting its subjects’ fame do most of the dramatic heavy lifting. On the other hand, the best films in the genre can give life to rich reinterpretations of their subjects, finding characters that are worth investing in regardless of who they were in real life. Christopher Munch’s speculative queer drama The Hours And Times (1992) is firmly in the latter camp, turning a sensitive eye towards a mysterious bit of Beatles trivia.

The film takes place over a long weekend in 1963 when John Lennon (Ian Hart) and The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein (David Angus), traveled to Barcelona together. Still adjusting to the spoils of celebrity in the wake of Beatlemania, Lennon is meant to use this time to relax, as Epstein merely accompanies him to make sure he behaves himself. However, the men’s apparent romantic feelings for one another only complicate their dynamic as the trip goes on.

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Setting aside the film’s historical baggage, one finds a tender and well-acted drama about two would-be lovers constrained by forces both external and internal. Hurt’s restless and sardonic take on Lennon is a fascinating one to watch on the screen, but short 57-minute feature’s melancholy lies more in the subtleties of Angus’ performance. Though only six years older than Lennon, Angus’ Epstein bleeds a lived-in gravitas, the wisdom of a gay man who has existed on the edge of acceptability, forced to stay only in the orbit of fulfillment. It is a minor tragedy that this is David Angus’ only leading role in an already tiny filmography, which makes UCLA’s new restoration at Cinematheque all the more necessary.

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