A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

1972, Comedy/Drama, 1h 47m

4 Reviews Fewer than 50 Ratings

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Movie Info

Married couple Bri (Alan Bates) and Sheila (Janet Suzman) have a daughter named Josephine (Elizabeth Robillard) who was born with severe cerebral palsy. Although the wheelchair-bound Jo is unable to move or speak, Sheila insists there is some possibility her daughter could get better. Bri, who deals with his emotional suffering through vicious black humor, has no such hopes and grows increasingly preoccupied with horrific fantasies about ending the family's suffering once and for all.

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Critic Reviews for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

All Critics (4) | Fresh (4)

Audience Reviews for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

  • Jan 09, 2012
    Part black comedy and part straight drama, "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" is hard to classify. Perhaps "movies adapted from plays" is the most appropriate genre, because its staging has some of that typical drawing-room stiffness. Teacher/artist Bri (Alan Bates) and actress Sheila (Janet Suzman) are a sophisticated couple whose lives are saddled with a tragic burden: their disabled daughter Jo (Elizabeth Robillard, in her only film role). Alternately called a "spastic," a "vegetable" and other terms that may not be acceptable today, Jo looks about nine years old. She moans rather than speaks, has unfocused eyes and is not capable of voluntary movement. She only twitches with seizures. Bri and Sheila choose to deal with this awful situation through cynical wit ("God is a manic-depressive rugby footballer") and tart humor. The bulk of the script rests on their edgy interplay, and the full cast has only nine speaking parts. A babbling mother-in-law (Joan Hickson) is traditional comic relief, while family friends Freddie (Peter Bowles) and Pam (Sheila Gish) mirror our own discomfort. The other characters are fairly trivial. A scene on a tacky children's ride does add an amusing tour-guide part and a strangely uneventful Jean Marsh cameo. Bates is dazzling as usual, though his broad theatrics can be abrasive at times. Shakespearean actress Suzman is a fine foil, and also is game for some rather unnecessary nudity. The story's most powerful feature is its bold discussion of the euthanasia temptations that such parents shouldn't feel but inevitably do. The talk-based action drags a little, but a strong ending defies a scenario that seems wholly unresolvable. Director Peter Medak had quite a year between this film and the equally dangerous satire of "The Ruling Class."
    Eric B Super Reviewer

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