2 October 1999 | davidf33
One of the Greats
A double header of complex imagination (first part) and painful recrimination (second part) in this film of deep feeling and hurt seen through the eyes of the dying author (John Gielgud). David Mercer's script includes all his life long angst of the relationship of father and son, although now in his final years fought out with more complex and participating female characters in the ghost of his dead wife, who doubles as his son's mistress (Elaine Stritch) and daughter-in-law (Ellen Burstyn).
The acting is pure poetry with John Geilgud at his refined best as the drunken and dying author in part celebrating his life of drunken womanising and in part regretting the pain that he has caused, in particular to his family. Dirk Borgarde performing the impossible task of being two imaginary characters and one real one with seemless effort. As the son of the dying author he carries all the pain and hatreds of the dying father both in the old man's fantasy and in his real life of inherited disillusionment. His relationship with his wife and mistress (in practice his mother! complex eh!) changes from the deeply loving to the perceive accusatory of the old man's increasingly drunken imagination.
Ellen Burstyn gives one of her finest film performances as the long suffering wife ,but in the end all the plaudits go to the writer. The style may be only that of the one-liner but each of them hits as an aphorism from the greatest of philosophical minds. The revolving characters of the final part of the authors dreaming make a bewildering tapestry of the imagination.
A fabulous movie, but one that will take many viewings to actually comprehend the complexities of it. Set that video!!