My Zinc Bed Reviews
BBC2, August 2008
Addiction is an uncertain concept, but not so uncertain as the idea to be cured from it. To reach absolute resolve, desire would need to be completely eliminated; to stop being an alcoholic one cannot simply avoid drink altogether, but be able to enjoy the stuff socially without once again forming an addiction. But who wants a life without desire?
This is the argument of the most interesting character in drama 'My Zinc Bed', a text full of intriguing ideas yet a focus intent on some duller personality interaction. Based on David Hare's play of the same name the film is very dialogue-heavy and boasts a small but eclectic cast, though adaptations from stage-to-screen don't always work that effectively.
Paul is a poet and a journalist, a committed member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and out of money. He manages to nab an interview with recluse businessman Victor Quinn, but the smart entrepreneur quickly turns the tables and offers an unwitting Paul a job at his firm. He accepts, but is taken aback by this man who seems to know so much about him.
Eventually Paul becomes acquaintanced with Victor's wife, Elsa, played by an eccentric and entertaining Uma Thurman. Soon revelations are unearthed and games set in motion, and it is always interesting to guess various character motivations and allies despite the film's repetitive nature and somewhat unnecessary narration. Elsa seems interested in Paul, but Victor comes across as a man of ruthlessness who likes to work on 'projects' to elevate his own feelings of superiority.
Unfortunately the drama unfurls into a cliched love triangle far too soon. Much of the dialogue in this area of the film seems forced, and the wonderful efforts of Thurman and Paddy Considine just don't raise the quality enough. Only Jonathon Pryce, adding charisma, sincerity and ambiguity to the project ever feels truly alive with passion in his dialogue.
Conclusively, 'My Zinc Bed' promises more than what it can conjure; the script is half-baked, the characters unfortunate victims to stereotypes and the ending anything but unpredictable. Nevertheless, it makes for strangely compelling viewing.
Pass, unless you're a die-hard fan of the leads.