The Immortal Augustus Gladstone Review
Mockumentaries and pseudo-docs alike have been popping up faster than pre-pubescent blemishes as of late, but as most utilize jarring camerawork of a handheld shooting style for jump scares (Paranormal Activity series), few possess the ability to provide a greater truth than that of their fantastic subject matter. First time director and legendary video game creator, Robyn Miller (Myst, Riven), presents the enigmatic soul of Augustus Gladstone in a unique translation from Youtube character sensation to full length feature. This highly expressive debut follows Gladstone in his pursuit towards human connectivity and what it actually means to be an individual.
The Immortal Augustus Gladstone opens with a text preface that has become a standard of any film claiming to hold any sort of truth. The informational anecdote depicted in the opening seconds of Gladstone propels the expected formal staging from introductory etiquette to welcoming curiosity and intrigue. We learn that our protagonist has been posting Youtube videos since 2011, and that upon first meeting Augustus, the film crew was informed that he claimed to be immortal, and eventually revealed that he identifies as a vampire.
This constant ice-breaker challenge of two lies and a truth seems less reminiscent of the cringe-inducing social experiment, instead revealing a supreme simplicity in communication, happiness and sublimity of the extra-ordinary. In a sense, the film challenges the viewer to believe what they want to believe in a filmic expression closely resembling that of the genre-defining, F for Fake by Orson Welles.
We find our lead residing within the dark confines of a dilapidated hotel, but among its damp innards is a beautifully decorated suite where Augustus calls home. This is not only an intimate glimpse into the character’s life, but as the location where the majority of his Youtube videos take place, this area is an exciting vestige of a man’s soul. As is true with his online content, the film takes time to record Gladstone’s impressive story-telling abilities as he recalls his times with Andy Warhol (1962), at the World’s Fair (1900), as well as the premiere of Godzilla (1954).
The time-traveling memory segment in particular exhibits some of the film’s artful use of text on screen, as the dates scroll over his face to accompany his stories. There is something ironically genuine about the presence of Augustus Gladstone that constantly delights and disturbs throughout, as the trailer claims, he’s on a journey for a kindred soul.
To accompany Augustus‘ journey for like minds, the film itself bares its inquisitive chords and turns the camera to everyday opinions about subjects of immortality, death, and vampirism. These street-side confessions are one of the many examples where the pseudo and the actual begin to blur. The film’s ability to capture the genuine by means of a fictional story arch is unique weaponry with powerful ammunition. Ultimately, no matter how exaggerated the characters within The Immortal Augustus Gladstone appear to be, nor the unbelievable nature of the title character himself, there are significant and intimate ideas that remain truly immortal long after the film has concluded with the ceremonious departure of Augustus Gladstone.
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Review Statement: The author of this review received a copy of the film from the studio for the purposes of this review.