The Dresser - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Dresser Reviews

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½ June 14, 2017
This is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It's funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he's playing on stage for the 227th time, King Lear.
April 14, 2017
Peter Yates's penultimate hurrah (the final being The House on Carroll Street), contains one of the most tragic endings ever.

Tom Courtenay is Norman, a dresser who arduously endeavors to handle his best friend/charge's grievous emotional complications. At the end, after a difficult performance of King Lear, Norman sits by his charge, who is simply referred to as "Sir," reading aloud the acknowledgements in Sir's autobiography. He gives thanks to everyone, even the carpenters and sound effect operators - with the exception of Norman. Norman looks over to Sir in angry, sad confusion. Sir is dead.

Albert Finney plays the part of Sir, delivering his usual bravura performance. His character is sorrowful, peppered, and self-aggrandizing. He is dreaded yet sympathized by his costars. When he begins his 227th performance of King Lear he is static due to nervousness caused by a stirring of emotions. When he ends he has found his inner soul, and, overwhelmed with gratefulness, gives one final bow.

Norman is among the most fascinating supporting characters I have ever met at the movies. He is Sir's greatest advocate and pal, having unswerving defense of him. He shovels away all the sediment of Sir's deep-rooted emotional impair with alcohol. He is the only one who truly loves him. Courtenay serves this character better than any actor could capably do.

This is one of Peter Yates' last films, having earlier that year directed the absurd Krull, ten years earlier directing the masterful The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and in 1968 the action-packed classic Bullitt.

A beautiful triumph in visceral filmmaking, The Dresser is among the best films of the 1980's.
½ December 28, 2016
The Dresser is a witty and thoughtful drama about the relationship between an aging actor and his faithful assistant that features superb performances from Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney.
November 15, 2015
If William Shakespeare himself is to write a self-depraciating comedy about a Shakespearean star, his dresser and one troubled production of KING LEAR, this is it. Strictly for theatre fans.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2015
The exquisite dialogue and the Oscar-nominated performances by Finney and Courtenay, who are no less than splendid together, are what makes this drama so engaging, centered on such a fascinating and complex relationship between the two characters.
June 1, 2014
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
April 2, 2014
It's all rather theatrical: here lies not a wasted line or a missed moment. Bravura.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2014
Finney and Courtenay give inspired performances and the wonderful dialogue certainly doesn't hurt. It may be the definitive film about the relationship between actors and designers.
January 5, 2014
Anyone who has ever acted on stage or worked behind the scenes of a play would love this film. The mix of comedy and powerful drama surrounding an aging Shakespearean actor giving the performance of his life during the bombing of London in WWII and his assistant (The Dresser) who has to keep him mentally prepared for the performance at the sacrifice of his own emotional state.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2013
Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney are absolutely fantastic in depicting two individuals who keep doing what they are comfortable in doing as the world comes crashing down around them.
½ July 7, 2013
Good story with a very good performance by Albert Finney..
½ April 28, 2013
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½ March 2, 2013
Simply one of the best Finney performances...ever. The acting, dialogue, and relationship between Finney and Courtney is stunning. And the supporting cast is magnificent.
February 20, 2013
An effeminate personal assistant of a deteriorating veteran actor struggles to get him through a difficult performance of King Lear.
½ December 5, 2012
Impressive & fun with exciting parallels & good perfs, pity it's overlooked
September 16, 2012
A little-seen gem on Canadian Netflix. Evocative of time/era, outstanding performances by two of the UK's finest (Finney and Courtenay).
August 29, 2012
Both lead actors were very very great .
July 8, 2012
Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney are brilliant in this absorbing character study of two men whose lives have been dedicated to the theatre.
May 8, 2012
Adapted by a 1981 Broadway sensation, its film counterpart is a hidden treasure of its time (although it achieved 5 nominations in the Oscar including BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTORX2 and BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY) but has been rarely mentioned and seen by a younger generation, I have no idea of its existence until recently. I feel kind of cherished to have a chance to watch this UK production since the play-in-a-play structure generally is my cup of tea.

Then it proves that this is an exceedingly diverting film from the late director Peter Yates even though the quintessence of pleasure may lie in Finney and Courtenay‚(TM)s crack two-hander, which is beyond any thespian methods, two utterly gallant performances brilliantly deliver every tiny little nuance and never descend into a stasis of tedious affectation. Theatrical adaption has always been an impeccable showcase for actors. A copybook triumph from both Finney and Courtney. The King Lear play in the film proffers a tour-de-force stage for Finney's expertise and his overpowering sway is both intimidating and entertaining; as for Courtenay, whose character molding even merits more pluck due to the self-challenging devoutness. Which one I prefer, after some contemplative thinking, despite of Finney‚(TM)s pretty fierce endeavor, I will choose Courtenay, a lesser known actor but achieves a more startling reverberation.

Among the supporting roles, Eileen Atkins is managing to steal some flare from two leading players, she is so underrated and should be ranked alongside Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, among the most venerated names inside the so-called UK Dame coterie.

The film has set up a perfect mode for the contemporary play-goes-film trend, within some minimal usage of settings, the impact has been magnified in an index level to be seen by a much larger audience. The screenplay is the keystone here, that‚(TM)s why they‚(TM)re emerging in an inexhaustible tide which verifies that theatrical play is an endless fodder-provider for both awards-craving production companies and thespians.
½ March 30, 2012
It wasn't what I expected and I really didn't like it too much. But it was someone worthwhile for the last 15 minutes which featured a excellent performance by Tom courtenay.
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