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The Dresser

1 rating: 4.0
A movie directed by Peter Yates

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Tags: Movies
Director: Peter Yates
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 1983.12.6 (USA), 1984.3.20 (UK)
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about The Dresser

Ailing Lear

  • Jul 3, 2011
  • by
Suffering through the threat of air raids and a dearth of competent actors in an incomparably dreary wartime England, as well as his own ailing health and encroaching dementia, the aging manager and lead star of a Shakespearean troupe (Albert Finney) and his prissy, fastidious, constantly devoted dresser (Tom Courtenay) tend to their extravagant business under the most difficult of circumstances. While the former struggles with his unreliable sanity, the latter must cope with an increasingly difficult employer, a task for which he is well equipped and never appreciated.

Finney receives top billing, Courtenay the titular role and both men occupy a roughly equal amount of screen time, so that neither man can lay sole claim to the lead in this film. Both deliver extraordinary performances that exploit an exhaustive emotional range, and their own efforts do not eclipse those of an entirely capable supporting cast. Period detail is excellent, as is the rather terse direction. Tremendously popular when released in 1983 and mostly ignored thereafter, this is a film that both students of naturalistic performance and screenwriters who adapt stage material would do well to enjoy and study.

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