The Dresser – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Film Title3.0 Stars

The Dresser was originally a play, and then a film in 1983 starring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, and now a TV movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen.  “Sir” (Hopkins) is the aging star of a theatrical company who is clearly suffering from some sort of dementia.  He was found running half naked through the streets by Norman (McKellen), his “dresser”, the man who preps him for the performances by doing his makeup, getting the costumes ready, and covering up for his employer’s indiscretions.  Now, even though they’re in the middle of the blitz, the motto is that “the show must go on”, but how can it if the star can’t be found, and even if he can, will he be able to perform?  Norman struggles to keep the troupe equally on track and in the dark as to Sir’s situation and the fate of the night’s production of King Lear.

The Dresser was good, but rather slow.  It was very dramatic, and a great representation of stage actors, and probably of actors in general.  The loyalty of the dresser to the star was admirable though it is hinted that their relationship was not as altruistic as it would seem but did parallel the relationship between Shakespeare’s Lear and The Fool.  While the film did focus mainly on the friendship between the two, it also featured the ailing Sir reconciling his relationships with the rest of the cast.  From those who love him such as Her Ladyship (Emily Watson) to those who wish to replace him like Oxenby (Tom Brooke) all appear before Sir and Norman.  What stood out as the high point for me was Edward Fox (A Bridge Too Far) as Thornton who played the Fool in the play, giving a wonderful, heartwarming speech to Sir near the close of the film.  Ironically Fox was in the 1983 version of The Dresser as Oxenby, completely opposite of the gracious Thornton character.

The box stated that “The Dresser is a wickedly funny and deeply moving story of friendship and loyalty”, but it was not “wickedly funny”, it did have some subtle laughs, but was really all drama, and that is what disappointed me.  Not being familiar with either the play or the original film, I was half expecting some sort of theatrical shenanigans to take place, but they didn’t.  Ah well, it was still enjoyable enough, though not what I expected.

Bottom Line: Naturally both Hopkins and McKellen gave excellent performances and made the film worth watching.


Posted on 16-10-29, in 3 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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