The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers (2004)

STEPHEN HOPKINS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA/United Kingdom, 2004.  HBO Films, BBC Films, The De Mann Entertainment Company, Company Pictures.  Screenplay by , , based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Geoffrey Rush‘s awe-inspiring performance is the main reason to watch this excellent biopic of one of the cinema’s most gifted comedians. Sellers went from obscurely modest fame on England’s television to super stardom after a few good turns in British films led to Blake Edwards casting him as Inspector Closeau in his perennially popular comedy The Pink Panther. The role was only meant to be a supporting one, but it became the focus of the film, led to a sequel and gave Sellers a run throughout the sixties that saw him on top of the world. Sadly, his personal life didn’t fare so well, his moody, practically insane personality driving away his first wife Anne (Emily Watson, who is marvelous), making mincemeat of his second marriage to Britt Ekland (Charlize Theron) and estranging him from his children. By the 1970s he was making subpar films until the resurrection of the Panther series saw him regain some of his footing before his swan song with Being There had him nominated for a second Oscar before his premature death. Rush, under exceptional makeup design, thoroughly embodies this complex and challenging man, admirable but unlikable, accomplished yet pitiful, and doesn’t shy away from anything difficult about his character. The production shines and is exceptionally well produced: a shame that after its Cannes debut it was kept from theatrical screens and relegated to the television.

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

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