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

  • Rich Man, Poor Men
  • Rich Man, Poor Men

    Can the wealthiest U.S. president ever help the poorest U.S. citizens?
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • La Resistance
  • La Resistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Must-See TV?
  • Must-See TV?

    Alternatives to the inauguration (and how to make watching more fun if you have to)
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Meet the Neighbors: Bethel AME

Meet the Neighbors: Bethel AME @ Bethel AME

Thu., Jan. 26, 6-8 p.m.

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

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Briefs


marijuana


green zone


Politics


Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • The <i>Real</i> Rachel Dolezal
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation