The Dresser Reviews

  • Oct 08, 2020

    Between 3 and 3.5 stars. While 2015 version is more a tour-de-force between 2 great actors, this is more the description of the effort of the inner core of a company not to fall though the surrounding circumstances. Tom Courtenay is particullarly apoteosic.

    Between 3 and 3.5 stars. While 2015 version is more a tour-de-force between 2 great actors, this is more the description of the effort of the inner core of a company not to fall though the surrounding circumstances. Tom Courtenay is particullarly apoteosic.

  • Sep 01, 2020

    What's more boring than a Shakespeare play? Watching a movie about old actors acting out diff Shakespeare play. I couldn't get emotionally invested in this one and felt it dragged, esp for occuring during WWII. I really don't think they should've pushed him to do the last play as he was clearly not well. It was frustrating to watch. I also had a hard time understanding the main character's motives as he kept coming in and out of reality-would've liked to have seen more of him before his dementia or whatever kicked in to see why they were all so enthralled with him. The acting was good but the main story and script was a dud. Been much more affected by other theater based movies.

    What's more boring than a Shakespeare play? Watching a movie about old actors acting out diff Shakespeare play. I couldn't get emotionally invested in this one and felt it dragged, esp for occuring during WWII. I really don't think they should've pushed him to do the last play as he was clearly not well. It was frustrating to watch. I also had a hard time understanding the main character's motives as he kept coming in and out of reality-would've liked to have seen more of him before his dementia or whatever kicked in to see why they were all so enthralled with him. The acting was good but the main story and script was a dud. Been much more affected by other theater based movies.

  • Jul 14, 2020

    The performances are absolutely fantastic.

    The performances are absolutely fantastic.

  • Nov 07, 2019

    Films that concern entertainers, specifically actors, tend to do very well with the Academy as La La Land (2016) recently displayed that even a poor performance can earn a popular actress an Academy Award for her portrayal of a starlet. This film is not only about actors but stage actors who continue to perform during World War II, surely it must be important, while facing problems of their own backstage. Other reasons that the film ticks ‘important' movie boxes is that it features two highly respected British actors in the leading roles and is based on a Tony Award nominated play. Beyond all of that high pedigree the film itself is rather disappointing as while it provides the opportunity for some over the top performances it never quite digs into the fascinating story of obsession destroying men. In the middle of World War II, aging Shakespearean actor Sir, Albert Finney, tours the towns of the United Kingdom with his devoted dresser Norman, Tom Courtenay. The two have a co-dependent relationship in which the bombastic Sir who struggles to remember his lines and is cruel to the other actors working as part of the theatre company provides Norman with fulfillment when he successfully performs. Norman believes that Sir cares for him as he does and does not recognize the fact that he sees him as unnecessary and is more focused on seducing younger actresses and recalling his lines. They face particular difficulties when they reach Bradford intending to perform King Lear at the local theatre. Unfortunately the town has been decimated by bombings and Sir is quickly losing his mind as the performance approaches and he cannot even recall what his first lines are supposed to be. That night Sir performs successfully but dies and in his will reveals his lack of care for Norman who is devastated but chooses to remain faithful to Sir even after his death. The excitement of the film comes from the well observed, realistic moments in which the past his prime actor lectures his resigned fellow performers and the exasperation of the other actors when their supposed star attraction has a meltdown. The film does manage to build up a wonderful sense of familiarity between it's characters in the opening scenes as Sir is established as the de facto leader of the group and a slightly mad megalomaniac. Meanwhile we see that Norman and others who seem to truly adore the actors and their performances are the people that really keep the show running. Had the film gone on like this I would have been content as a Robert Altman style slice of life inside the 1940s British theatre world would have been fascinating. Instead we settle on a plot as the two central characters arrive in Bradford and we understand that Norman needs to have Sir prepared to deliver the performance of his lifetime by the time the play is scheduled to begin. The story begins to feel forced and labored at this point as we have a series of supporting characters brought in to discuss their relationships with Sir while Norman happily suffers in service of his master. There are a few funny moments thrown in here and there such as when Sir complains about Hitler conspiring to prevent him from performing but these are few and far between and in the meantime we get sick of Sir's theatrics. Perhaps this is part of the point but director Peter Yates seems to be telling us that we really should care about the woman who has yearned for him from afar and the jilted young woman aiming to be his Cordelia. When Sir is such a ridiculous caricature it is difficult to believe in these comparatively grounded and emotionally deep characters as they discuss the deep anguish that this hopped up Laurence Olivier has caused them. If only we could have had dashes of the admittedly entertaining Sir in amongst brief vignettes about the other equally interesting characters that populate this theatre group. This is not to say that Finney and Courtenay do not give it their all in performances that suggest they both have a great love for the roles they play. Courtenay gives the performance with more opportunity to display emotional range as he is fantastic at the effeminate gestures and repression of emotion for the majority of the film. This is why his final breakdown is earned as we see all that he gives up in his servitude and the total lack of recognition he receives is reflected in Courtenay's appropriately horrified expression. Finney's performance was something that I was less enamored of as he is playing to the back row throughout the film and Sir has no emotional development. Having a character like that on screen for the majority of the running time means that we quickly get tired of his outbursts and this hurts my view of Finney. If you are a fan of Courtenay, I certainly am, this is a film that will appeal to you but if looking for a study of the difficulties of a co-dependent relationship or any deeper theme you may be disappointed.

    Films that concern entertainers, specifically actors, tend to do very well with the Academy as La La Land (2016) recently displayed that even a poor performance can earn a popular actress an Academy Award for her portrayal of a starlet. This film is not only about actors but stage actors who continue to perform during World War II, surely it must be important, while facing problems of their own backstage. Other reasons that the film ticks ‘important' movie boxes is that it features two highly respected British actors in the leading roles and is based on a Tony Award nominated play. Beyond all of that high pedigree the film itself is rather disappointing as while it provides the opportunity for some over the top performances it never quite digs into the fascinating story of obsession destroying men. In the middle of World War II, aging Shakespearean actor Sir, Albert Finney, tours the towns of the United Kingdom with his devoted dresser Norman, Tom Courtenay. The two have a co-dependent relationship in which the bombastic Sir who struggles to remember his lines and is cruel to the other actors working as part of the theatre company provides Norman with fulfillment when he successfully performs. Norman believes that Sir cares for him as he does and does not recognize the fact that he sees him as unnecessary and is more focused on seducing younger actresses and recalling his lines. They face particular difficulties when they reach Bradford intending to perform King Lear at the local theatre. Unfortunately the town has been decimated by bombings and Sir is quickly losing his mind as the performance approaches and he cannot even recall what his first lines are supposed to be. That night Sir performs successfully but dies and in his will reveals his lack of care for Norman who is devastated but chooses to remain faithful to Sir even after his death. The excitement of the film comes from the well observed, realistic moments in which the past his prime actor lectures his resigned fellow performers and the exasperation of the other actors when their supposed star attraction has a meltdown. The film does manage to build up a wonderful sense of familiarity between it's characters in the opening scenes as Sir is established as the de facto leader of the group and a slightly mad megalomaniac. Meanwhile we see that Norman and others who seem to truly adore the actors and their performances are the people that really keep the show running. Had the film gone on like this I would have been content as a Robert Altman style slice of life inside the 1940s British theatre world would have been fascinating. Instead we settle on a plot as the two central characters arrive in Bradford and we understand that Norman needs to have Sir prepared to deliver the performance of his lifetime by the time the play is scheduled to begin. The story begins to feel forced and labored at this point as we have a series of supporting characters brought in to discuss their relationships with Sir while Norman happily suffers in service of his master. There are a few funny moments thrown in here and there such as when Sir complains about Hitler conspiring to prevent him from performing but these are few and far between and in the meantime we get sick of Sir's theatrics. Perhaps this is part of the point but director Peter Yates seems to be telling us that we really should care about the woman who has yearned for him from afar and the jilted young woman aiming to be his Cordelia. When Sir is such a ridiculous caricature it is difficult to believe in these comparatively grounded and emotionally deep characters as they discuss the deep anguish that this hopped up Laurence Olivier has caused them. If only we could have had dashes of the admittedly entertaining Sir in amongst brief vignettes about the other equally interesting characters that populate this theatre group. This is not to say that Finney and Courtenay do not give it their all in performances that suggest they both have a great love for the roles they play. Courtenay gives the performance with more opportunity to display emotional range as he is fantastic at the effeminate gestures and repression of emotion for the majority of the film. This is why his final breakdown is earned as we see all that he gives up in his servitude and the total lack of recognition he receives is reflected in Courtenay's appropriately horrified expression. Finney's performance was something that I was less enamored of as he is playing to the back row throughout the film and Sir has no emotional development. Having a character like that on screen for the majority of the running time means that we quickly get tired of his outbursts and this hurts my view of Finney. If you are a fan of Courtenay, I certainly am, this is a film that will appeal to you but if looking for a study of the difficulties of a co-dependent relationship or any deeper theme you may be disappointed.

  • Dec 19, 2017

    ***FINNEY & COURTENAY AREN'T AS GOOD AS HOPKINS & MCKELLEN IN 2015 FILM VERSION***

    ***FINNEY & COURTENAY AREN'T AS GOOD AS HOPKINS & MCKELLEN IN 2015 FILM VERSION***

  • Apr 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.

    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.

  • Dec 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.

    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.

  • Sep 06, 2014

    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.

    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.

  • Jun 01, 2014

    My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.

    My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.

  • Apr 02, 2014

    It's all rather theatrical: here lies not a wasted line or a missed moment. Bravura.

    It's all rather theatrical: here lies not a wasted line or a missed moment. Bravura.