The Servant (1964)
Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 3
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 2
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 3,253
Wealthy wastrel James Fox hires insouciant cockney Dirk Bogarde as a valet. No sooner has he donned his working clothes than Bogarde begins exercising a subtle but insidious control over his master. Suggesting that the house could use a little fixing up, Bogarde convinces Fox to spend a whopping amount of money on it. But this is just a warm-up session for Bogarde, who by mid-film is calling all the shots in the Fox household, all the while pretending to keep his place. Fox's fiance Wendy Craig
Mar 16, 1964 Wide
Mar 22, 2003
Rialto Pictures - Official Site
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Glaciers might be melting, the polar caps might be crumbling, but not even the passage of half a century has taken the frozen edge off this brilliantly icy film.
A perfect storm of perversity, pre-Persona identity transference, prole pole-positioning and mutually assured psychological destruction, Joseph Losey's masterpiece immediately transformed the director from has-been Hollywood exile to European auteur.
The Servant is for the most part strong dramatic fare, though the atmosphere and tension is not fully sustained to the end.
The performances are note-perfect and Pinter's script is smart, subversive and sly, lifting the lid on our age-old feudal hierarchy and having a good dig about inside.
It is a flesh-creeping demonstration of human destructiveness that Mr. Pinter and Mr. Losey are presenting in this film, and it is made all the more horrifying by the genteel surroundings in which it occurs.
The film is very studied and smooth, even though it deals in sexual hysteria; it could use some of the roughness and drive of Losey's early work.
Losey's ripping comedy of breakdown, a master class in ominous mise-en-scène
The film's sidelong narrative glances suggest a privileged world brimming with innuendo-laden excess and barely concealed sexual jealousies.
Essentially a two-hander, with Fox admirable as a latter-day Sebastian Flyte and Bogarde (finally nailing his matinée reputation) chilling as the mercenary valet.
Claustrophobic film-making carries a charge it's not easy to forget. Only Pinter could match it.
It is a brilliant, subversive account of class relations and the changing times.
Losey's use of off-kilter camera angles and an ornamental convex mirror helps to emphasise the stifling architecture of the building while offering eerie portents of things to come.
Losey creates an atmosphere of deepening claustrophobic menace shot through with episodes of savage black humour.
Slight comedy based on the antics of a group of naughty Brit medical students at a London hospital.
Opaque but hypnotically absorbing allegory of power, exploitation, and sublimated sexuality in a class-based society.
Certainly difficult to define, this period piece messes with genres, power relationships and your head.
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