Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS (2004). Director: Stephen Hopkins. Based on the biography by Roger Lewis. An Australian film shown on HBO in the U.S.

This biopic skips over most of Sellers' early life and really begins with him winning the British Academy Award. But a bigger problem is that director Hopkins eschews a sensible narrative style and has Sellers [as played by Geoffrey Rush] speaking directly to the audience, or dressing up and playing his wife at one point and his mother at another. This approach doesn't help the movie and certainly doesn't help us understand Peter Sellers. Emily Watson and Charlize Theron play the wives, Ann and Britt [Ekland]; John  Lithgow is Blake Edwards and Stanley Tucci is Stanley Kubrick. Miriam Margoyles does a nice job as Sellers' loving mother, Peg, as does James Bentley as her grandson, Michael. In its attempt to celebrate a great artist yet condemn him as kind of a prick, the movie succeeds in doing neither. Rush is fine, but the movie quickly becomes tedious. Who needs reproductions of Sellers' movies when we can see the real things for ourselves? And Rush was seen to better advantage in The King's Speech, a far better picture than this. Heck, Green Lantern, in which Rush only contributed a voice, is better than this.

Verdict: All you need to know about Sellers is in his movies. **.

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