Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Barrymore" with Christopher Plummer (2012)

Christopher Plummer, in one of the finest roles of his storied career, portrays the classic actor John Barrymore; brother to Lionel and Ethel; and the slave of alcohol. The movie is very simply set, with most of the monologue; which the movie is, with the exception of the unseen “prompter” who feeds him his lines when he strays off course; taking place in a vacant theater which the aging actor has rented in order to stage a comeback that would never take place.

In a brilliant screenplay, Mr. Plummer is allowed to float seamlessly between the stage where the rehearsal takes place; and the dressing room; to flights of fancy borne of the aging masters past experiences. Sometimes you are not certain who he is, or where he is supposed to be performing; but so did he. He was a man lost to himself, and Mr. Plummer does such an excellent job of portraying him that I often found myself thinking that I was watching the real John Barrymore in all his eccentric glory. He has that ability to evoke the madness which raged within Mr. Barrymore, making him the one of the most talented actors of our time.

Capturing all of the demons which haunted Mr. Barrymore; the excesses and regrets; the writer has given all the room the actor needs in which to rant and rave his way through this remarkable film. If you are a fan of Mr. Plummer’s work, and a fan of Mr. Barrymore as well, then this will be a double delight for you. And if you are unfamiliar with the contradictions which were the man, then this film will have you wishing to know even more.

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