Quentin Crisp's early life became a cause celebre upon the publication of The Naked Civil Servant and its subsequent presentation as a remarkable 1975 TV production starring John Hurt. As recounted in both, Crisp's determination to be his flamboyant and unorthdox self, at a time when
homosexuality was a crime punishable by law, was an act of true heroism. Produced, written and directed by Jonathan Nossiter, RESIDENT ALIEN documents the recent activities of this unassuming cultural hero.
Crisp lives in a world of his own creation. He freely states: "I do think of myself as artificial, as an invention. I try to become more like myself every day." Crisp left England after 68 years of persecution and obscurity and moved to New York City, the metropolis of his dreams. RESIDENT ALIEN
opens up with Crisp walking with John Hurt on the streets of Manhattan, exchanging witty remarks. Portraying Quentin was the breakthrough role for Hurt and he has remained a close friend.
Nossiter then segues into quick shots of Quentin talking to various friends, at lectures and wherever he has an audience. These are interspersed with comments from Sting and other admirers. The film then switches to a long shot of Crisp walking down a desolate street in the city, at night. His
shadow reflected on the wall. A homeless man emerges from his cardboard box shelter, accosts him and says "I know you, I know you. You must be famous." Crisp replys softly, "Yes, yes," then continues to walk along. We next see him walking against the wind, it is daylight, another passerby stops
him to say, "I know you, I know you." And when Crisp replies, the man laughingly says, "You're English, you're English," and then goes on his way. Quentin is very much at home with the street life, and invariably welcomes the characters that pop up on his rambles with a smile and wry comment.
Crisp is gentle, open and painfully self-aware. He has said: "I spend a good deal of my life on camera and even when I'm not, I behave as though I were." In RESIDENT ALIEN we continue with his life in a foreign land where he has found his niche. Crisp answers attacks against his lifestyle with
wit, charm and dignity. "I have come to represent a sad person's view of a gay person," he opines. Crisp further contends that the "very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think of us."
RESIDENT ALIEN presents you with the flamboyant lifestyle of a true original, offering insight into a man who listens to a different drummer as he confronts life on his own terms. (Profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Quentin Crisp's early life became a cause celebre upon the publication of The Naked Civil Servant and its subsequent presentation as a remarkable 1975 TV production starring John Hurt. As recounted in both, Crisp's determination to be his flamboyant and un… (more)