The Life And Death Of Peter... (2004)
star Printer-Friendly version
Review Date: May 21, 2004
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Producers: Simon Bosanquet
Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers
John Lithgow as Blake Edwards
Charlize Theron as Britt Ekland
Essentially what the title of the film implies, this story focuses on the life and times of actor Peter Sellers, starting from his early career as a radio comedian in England, all the way to his heyday as Inspector Clouseau in the PINK PANTHER movies, complete with bits from his home life, his struggle with celebrity and fame, and his relationships with his mom, dad, wives and kids.
Going into this movie, I wondered why a film based on the life and times of a pretty contemporary actor would/should be of interest, especially since I'd never really heard of any wild or terribly exciting stories about the man in question. Now that I've actually seen the movie, I can see why I was thinking those things, since the man's life really wasn't all that interesting, engaging or particularly different than most celeb stories and neither was this generic film. It's basically a TV movie of the week starring a bunch of "names" in small parts like Charlize Theron playing the ultimate Swedish phony accent as Britt Ekland, Sellers' second wife, Stanley Tucci playing Stanley Kubrick and not doing a particularly convincing job of it and John Lithgow over-acting as Sellers' most prominent collaborator, director Blake Edwards. Unfortunately for us, what neither Edwards, his wives or this film provide is any true insight into the man himself. All we get is stock scenes featuring the actor becoming more and more "difficult" on the set, doing a little coke, a little cheating, a little slap to the wife's face and struggling with his own self-doubt and Oedipus complex. Basically, all your basic food groups from any half-assed "E! True Hollywood Story". Director Stephen Hopkins tries to pep things up via bizarre montage sequences that make little sense, including one that has Sellers dreaming about his characters through a 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY medley of some kind, and other extremely distracting sequences featuring actor Geoffrey Rush suddenly taking over the bodies of other actors in the film, and talking directly into the camera.

Hopkins used a similar technique successfully in UNDER SUSPICION a few years ago, but it doesn't work here, feeling out of place and contrived. Furthermore, the movie doesn't really provide much depth into the man himself and essentially just glosses over the major high points in his career (which, between me and you, are basically the PINK PANTHER movies and DR. STRANGELOVE) Even sadder is the fact that the film tells us that Sellers was never happy with either his performances in the PANTHER films or the fact that he was "reduced" to doing them, which is surely not something any fan of those movies (and his work in them) wants to hear (I know I didn't). Thankfully for all of you, this bio-flick will only be showing as a HBO movie in the States, which is exactly where it belongs. The only redeeming quality of this picture, and it is a pretty big one, is the brilliant portrayal of Sellers by Rush. He looks amazingly like the man here, and really manages to make you forget about his "acting" and focus on Sellers, the character, instead. Like most other TV movies though, the film also suffers from a lack of character development (who is the first wife again, and why is Emily Watson playing her?) and tepid dialogue such as "I'm the big star now, they can't do anything without me!" Really, is that really something he said? Even one of the film's last scenes between Edwards and Sellers feels forced and unreal (did they really meet like that in the snow, etc...). I don't know.

Overall, the film's biggest problem is that its lead is a man who apparently didn't have much "life" or "depth" of his own, which ironically enough, makes even the rendering of his own life story, well...life-less and depth-less. Next time, focus on someone's life that's a little more engaging, original, exciting or at the very least...entertaining. This film was boring, if nothing else. PS: Sonia Aquino was hot as Sofia Loren in this film and Loren is hot on her own as well...even to this day!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

Featured Youtube Videos

Views and Counting