Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Joel Smith & r & The Life and Death of Peter Sellers & r & This biopic of the genius comedic actor behind the Pink Panther series and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove suffers the same fate afflicting every other biopic: It dulls its hero's spirit by trying to show too much in too little time. The film begins with Sellers' early work as part of a British radio program but then rushes too hastily through the beginning of his film work. Within 10 minutes, he's already won a British Academy Award; within 20, he's an international star, with a dangerous crush on co-star Sophia Loren.


The thrust of the film is the strange and disconcerting (though hardly unexpected) juxtaposition between Sellers' unparalleled comedic gift and his confused and immature personal life. But with minimal explication of his background and childhood life, his mercurial outbursts as an adult seem almost rootless and arbitrary.


Still, there are a couple of masterful touches here. First and foremost is Sellers' brilliant portrayal by Geoffrey Rush (Shine, Quills), who not only looks the part but moves and talks and acts like Sellers, too. Rush doing Inspector Clouseau or the president in Strangelove is utterly haunting. He's buoyed, too, by artful acting from Emily Watson and John Lithgow and so-so fakery by Charlize Theron as Sellers' second wife.


Equally impressive are the kind of Dali-esque blurred lines between reality and production. During a stormy marital fight scene, Emily Watson's Ann Sellers is shown passing through the front door. When the film cuts to her outside the door, though, it's no longer Watson playing Ann Sellers but Rush playing Peter Sellers playing his wife, talking to the camera. The new Ann goes into the studio to overdub Ann's arguments during the fight scene you just watched, explaining away Peter's behavior. Later in the film, Rush appears as Sellers' mother, his father, as Stanley Kubrick, etc.


Coupled with the portrayal of Sellers' use of his characters to escape from his personal life, director Stephen Hopkins crafts a compelling image of the actor as a blank, hollow montage of characters, a vision Sellers himself embraced in his penultimate film, Being There.


Despite its pacing, Life and Times is a compelling portrait. Check it out first, but then go back, stop worrying and love the bomb.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Bridging the Gap
  • Bridging the Gap

    Bridge Avenue stands as the dividing line between the swanky Kendall Yards and impoverished West Central. Is that about to change?
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Rematch
  • Rematch

    Once again, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas face off for her seat in Congress. Here are some ways they differ
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Hail to the Chief (Again)
  • Hail to the Chief (Again)

    Craig Meidl again gets the nod from Mayor Condon; plus, a WSU football player in Domino's brawl won't be charged
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science

Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 6

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


Briefs


trail mix


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Fagan's World
  • Fagan's World

    City councilman Mike Fagan has unconventional views on vaccinations. So, what else does he think?
    • Feb 18, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation