The Servant - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Servant Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 14, 2009
well i can only say this blew me away. losey is a very interesting director, showing flashes of brilliance even in his worst films, and it finally all comes together for him here, with a marvelous harold pinter script and once in a lifetime performance by dirk bogarde. superb
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2011
This is a superb, sinister movie of the very highest class. Unlike the character Tony (James Fox) who is upper class without being high class, if you get my drift. You cannot really sympathise with Tony, who toys with some high falutin' development projects but basically is a wastrel just waiting to be ponced off. Tony is a later-day Bertie Wooster. The sinister element comes from the servant (Dirk Bogarde), who is no Jeeves. Barrett, like Jeeves , is a gentleman's gentleman or valet (not a butler as suggested in some other comments on this film). Tony needs a valet because he is incapable of doing anything much without help. Barrett and his accomplice Vera (Sarah Miles) take Tony to the cleaners, sweeping aside the fiancee Susan (Wendy Craig) in their wake.

Harold Pinter has written the screenplay in similar vein to the superb movie The Accident, also a Losey piece, which I also commend. The cinematography in both movies is simply excellent. The subject matter of The Servant suits Pinter, although much of the screenplay is not really in Pinter's voice. However, there is one scene, set in a restaurant, which includes a tiny cameo by Pinter himself and which contains a short Pinteresque exchange between two women. There is also one tense exchange between Susan and Barrett "do you wear deodorant" etc. which is very reminiscent of a scene in The Caretaker "you stink from arsehole to Thursday" etc. Indeed the story of The Servant resembles The Caretaker in many respects, except that in The Servant the interloper, Barrett, is on top and stays there, whereas in The Caretaker the interloper, Davies, lacks the skill and circumstances to dislodge the incumbent.

There is a homoerotic undercurrent to the film and this works so well because it is an undercurrent (in 1963 there could have been no more than an undercurrent even if they had wanted more). The overt debauchery with Vera and the orgy party towards the end of the film is the only bit of the film that has aged without grace. But I quibble.

This is a truly great film and it deserves to be more widely known.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2011
"The Servant" (most noted for it's collaboration between play write Harold Pinter and Director Joseph Losey and for Dirk Bogarde's BAFTA winning performance) is a bit to elusive to truly engage, but it's intoxicating photography, subtly creepy performances and enough homoerotic psychosexual mind games to fill three films, nearly make up for it. It's ending however seems almost too straightforward for it's twisty beginning and middle, but it at least gives you something to think about when it's over. "The Servant" is a dense film, and one that will engage anyone looking for a good mind game.
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2010
Let's play master and servant! A subtly twisted trademark Pinter screenplay. Collaboration with Joseph Losey for direction. Bogarde in a polished, sinister, homoerotic role. Film making doesn't get much better than this.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
I know a lot of people think this is a really great movie, but I couldn't get past the beginning, it was way too slow and boring. Maybe it gets better later, I'll have to see it again sometime.
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2008
Games of moral corruption, sexual appetites, blackmail, social class scaling, subjugation and conformism; to a certain extent all tabu themes of its time period, explored with subtle elegance and perfectly drawn tension. Hypnotic use of angles and lightning. powerful dramatic performances.
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2008
Dark film of twisted people. Well acted but somewhat repellent.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2007
Hypnotizing, elegant, ambiguous suspense. Dirk Bogarde is beyond words, what an incredible performance. A bit slow, but impossible to look away from. Is it a social critique? Probably, but I'm still trying to figure it all out. Excellent.
Super Reviewer
½ October 4, 2012
Even if the acting and ideas are good, The Servant left me quite confused. In the first half of the film, a man-servant named Barrett gets hired by a snobby and rude guy named Tony. By the time the 2nd half of the film rolls around, both of their personalities have suddenly changed and there's a big and confusing love quadrangle being tossed around. The pacing is the biggest turn-off here, which doesn't go well with such a strange film.
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2009
Marvelous film. Play-like in structure (Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay, after all), yet it never feels stiff or stagy. That's a tricky feat. Makes an intriguing companion piece to 1970's "Performance," which *also* features James Fox playing a character who's changed/corrupted by living in close quarters with a persuasive scoundrel (in that case, Mick Jagger).
½ April 18, 2008
I liked this movie, but I think it would appeal more to it's targrt audience, namely the English. As an American I'm sure I missed nuances of the battle here between the master and his servent.
September 15, 2014
Re your intro ....Bogarde part is not a Cockney. He's Yorkshire. Mike Hamilton Melb Australia
April 24, 2010
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.
January 5, 2014
"James Fox hires insouciant cockney Dirk Bogarde". Wrong. Barrett's from Manchester, not the East End of London. (That's where Cockney's originate) Erm, not everyone in England is a Cockney despite what you've gleaned from the stock characters in the dumbed down movies you usually watch but do not see. These cities are 200 miles and a world apart. Please learn a little more about your subject matter before claiming you have the ability or insight to write an informed review.
½ December 16, 2013
An intriguing eventful film.
November 16, 2013
Losey and Pinter's first collaboration (they would continue their rapport in ACCIDENT 1967 and THE GO-BETWEEN 1970), THE SERVANT imposes an alluring tale of a subversive master-and-servant relationship, with heavy homo erotic undertones (the author of the source novel Robin Maugham is "defiantly homosexual") way ahead of its era, so it is time to revive this hidden gem to make it circulate to a more open-minded demography for its sheer marvelousness.

A young aristocrat Tony (Fox) hired Barrett (Bogarde) as his servant to administer his house, but Barrett has his own plan to manipulate Tony to be completely reliant on him, so assisted by his complicit Vera (Miles), and hampered by Tony's supercilious fiancée Susan (Craig),
it is a binge of seduction, betrayal, debauchery, drug abuse and mind games.

Douglas Slocombe, the prestigious British cinematographer, brings the film to life with his ingenious camerawork, the setting is largely confined interior to Tony's residence (dominantly in the shots is a bookshelf-shape door to the living room, camouflage beyond the veneer is a running theme here), Slocombe is ravishing the eroticism and tautness by his superlative deployments with mirrors (it is in the poster!), shadows, shades (Tony's silhouette hiding behind the shower curtain during a hide-and-seek) and sublime focus-alteration, refracted by the B&W prism, the potency is mind-blowing and soul-cleansing, up to the very end, the transcendent oddity of the situation could only pique one's curiosity for more, for the imbroglio is so fascinating, so nihilistic, anticipates A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971, 8/10)'s benumbing ridicule.

John Dankworth's alternately light-mood, lyric, jazz-infused and riveting score is a handsome companion to Pinter's satirical and pun-slinging screenplay (under the weather? poncho and gaucho?), when Tony addresses to Susan that "he (Barrett) looks like a fish", it hits the bull's eye. Bogarde continues his bold glass-ceiling-breaking endeavor after VICTIM (1961, 8/10), bags another self-revealing role and unleashes his nefarious audacious in the duality of Barrett's servant-and-master changeover; while his on-screen prey James Fox, who, indeed, is equally brilliant in his breakthrough picture, out of four main characters, none of them are good-natured, but he is the only one can collect viewers' sympathy, and one may not root for him, but witness his downfall nevertheless needs more than the fondness of his willowy figure and innocent eyes. Miles and Craig, the two female companions, can not receive the same laud, Miles has a strident voice and being excruciatingly annoying whenever she talks and her performance is in excess of theatricality, which luckily would tune down in her later effort in RYAN'S DAUGHTER (1970, 7/10) and THE HIRELING (1973, 6/10); Craig, whose snobbish and frigid poise is off-putting, albeit she has the most recondite sensibilities to present in the frenzied coda, the efficacy is beyond her ken.

THE SERVANT may be Losey's finest work and should be appreciated more, it is a divine psychological drama with a latent homosexual struggle which perpetually beleaguers human nature and finally we reach the opportune time when we can look directly into each other's eyes without feeling ashamed or offensive anymore.
July 30, 2013
A fascinating film that tackles the oft-worn story of a servant and a master reversing their roles. Joseph Losey's film certainly stems from concerns about the caste system that arose in England after the war, but the film's craft and performances make it more timeless than the social commentary does. Lowry films The Servant with a keen understanding of what-and-what-not to show regarding it's sexual matter (the film was considered very steamy for it's time though), and the performances from his four leads are all layered and ripe with character development. The ending is something truly spellbinding, and something to consider ahead of it's time, realizing that the movie predates Persona. The momentum has some jarring spots, but for the most part this is as superb a black comedy as it is a subversive work of art.
½ July 22, 2013
its a really good movie
½ July 23, 2013
Trailer (preview) suggests a provocative destitute fallen from the good graces of a ravished middle-class bureaucracy. Maybe a harbinger to the classic film noir of the early 40's to the late 50's. Could be interesting!
July 22, 2013
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
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