Not really a comedy - more a surreal, sometimes weirdly comic piece about comedians, about families, about the awfulness of having a famous father, about genius, about the problem of what makes a comic funny, about the sublime sadness of failure. Lee Evans is absolutely haunting as the tortured comic genius, the natural comic who is so purely a comedian that he can barely communicate except in gags, yet who will never be allowed to perform in public because of his dark past. Leslie Caron is heart-rending as his mother, a brave, faded French beauty stranded for ever singing mildly risque songs in Blackpool pubs, and their tender scenes together are for me the best thing in the whole film. The whole cast is incredible...right down to Oliver Reed camping it up gloriously in a bizarre sub-plot which at first I thought might be part of the Evans' character's fevered imagination. It is a movie absolutely crammed with magic but in one of my favourite scenes, Oliver Platt arrives in Blackpool and instantly sees it peopled with characters from Donald McGill postcards - fat ladies, saucy girls with flouncy skirts, burly men. The ending is a bit wonky and looks to my eye to have been changed from a tragic one to a "happy" one to please audiences. In the two opening sequences, both Evans and Platt utter the words "I'm going to die" in very different circumstances, and mean very different things, and other variations on the theme of death and laughter follow - all this seemed to be pointing down a much darker alleyway than the one we got. Doesn't matter, though. Still a great movie.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
An unsuccessful comedian uncovers a family secret and learns the true price of letting inherent talent shine.
February 19, 2020