Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/USA, 1982. Incorporated Television Company, Keith Barish Productions. Screenplay by Alan J. Pakula, based on the novel by William Styron. Cinematography by Nestor Almendros. Produced by Keith Barish, Alan J. Pakula. Music by Marvin Hamlisch. Production Design by George Jenkins. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by Evan A. Lottman. Academy Awards 1982. Boston Film Critics Awards 1982. Golden Globe Awards 1982. National Board of Review Awards 1982. New York Film Critics Awards 1982.
The performance that has defined Meryl Streep‘s fantastic career is to be found in this harrowing drama, about a naive Southern boy (Peter MacNicol) who goes to live in a Brooklyn rooming house and befriends a Holocaust survivor (Streep) and her wildly emotional boyfriend (Kevin Kline in his film debut). Becoming extremely attached to both of them, MacNicol (who is a semi-autobiographical creation of the novel’s author William Styron) is disturbed when it becomes increasingly apparent that Kline’s violent temper is a sign of actual madness more than eccentricity, and Streep is the victim in line for the brunt of his uncontrollable anger. This brings out personal testimonies on her part that she relates to McNicol, which clear up her tragic history and the moment in her life when she realized that she had nothing left to live for. It’s a beautifully photographed, meticulously acted drama, one that’s missing a bit of energy on director Alan J. Pakula’s part (it feels stagy at times), but is unforgettable nonetheless.