Albatross is a haunting, beautiful movie, but I did not always know what it was about while watching it. However, as I kept watching, the movie slowly started to peel away the many layers of a relationship to reveal an underlying story.
The story takes place in 1959 New England. A biracial couple, the Millers, are invited to visit a psychiatrist and his wife, the Burkes, to help gain entrance to the social community around them. The Burkes are respected members of the community and its social structure, but this is not who they really are.
Their life together involves male homosexual relationships, active and repressed, and the compromises they have made to appear acceptable. There are flashbacks to an original male love story that haunts both of the Burkes.
A secondary theme involves the Millers’ struggles as a biracial couple, but its only significance is to highlight their role as outsiders. A minor theme in the relationships of both the Burkes and the Millers is the expected roles of women in society.
This is primarily a story about repressed sexuality and the impact of those trapped in the lie. Dr. Burke has regular relationships with men, constantly replaying the memories of the defining love story of his youth.
The need to relive this moment consumes his life and his thoughts. Mrs. Burke had married him knowing the story but in her way she also wanted to appear “normal” in society. Although her role as the wife gave her some power she too had traded her desire for love for respectability.
Albatross is a well-made movie. The writing, directing by Todd Slater, and cinematography are all very good. The acting is excellent, and the tensions and repartee between the characters are well done. The tone is haunting and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie. If you like to watch films with a slow reveal of complex characters, this movie will appeal to you.