Bernard And Doris

"Good"

Bernard And Doris Review


HBO lined up two big stars to tell the story of billionaire tobacco heiress Doris Duke and her loyal yet shady butler Bernard Lafferty. Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes star in Bernard and Doris and give it a go, but the truth is that they are both miscast, Sarandon especially, and that error subverts what is otherwise a witty half drama/half comedy.

Racing through the final years of Doris's troubled life in typically episodic biopic fashion, the teleplay introduces us to an aging but still feisty woman who doesn't suffer fools gladly and manages her sprawling estate and her finances with an iron fist. When a butler delivers cantaloupe that is chilled incorrectly, Doris fires him on the spot.

His replacement: the creepy Bernard, who is recently out of rehab and has questionable references. Soon enough, however, he's comfortably installed as the household majordomo, slowly loosening up and becoming friendlier with the lonely Doris as he travels the world with her and learns to share her expensive and exotic tastes. Given Bernard's developing fondness for eye makeup, flowery caftans, and his ever-lengthening ponytail, it's clear that the two will never become lovers, but even in her 70s, Doris is a maneater, bedding a dreadlocked jazz pianist 40 years her junior while Bernard fusses around the house and quietly drinks his way through her impressive wine cellar when he's not helping her repot her orchids.

And so it goes, with Doris's roundtable of gray-haired bankers and philanthropy advisors becoming increasingly agitated by Bernard's influence over her, especially as her health begins to decline and all attention starts focusing on what is sure to be an interesting will and last testament. If and when Doris dies, what is going to happen to her billions, and will Bernard get his hands on any of the loot?

Sarandon has loads of fun chewing the scenery, but her casting is historically inaccurate because she is far younger than the real Duke was when Lafferty entered her life, and the dynamic between them feels off. Fiennes does better as Bernard. He's truly oily but manages to become a somewhat sympathetic character by the end, given that the screenplay really doesn't take sides. Still, the film would have been better served by someone truly weird, someone like Ferris Bueller's principal, Ed Rooney, actor Jeffrey Jones, who I don't think is working much anymore. Fiennes just can't help but be debonair.

Bernard and Doris is a fun enough diversion, but it's wishy-washy and doesn't dig dive enough into comedy, tragedy, sympathy, suspense, or anything else to make it ultimately memorable.

Judi Dench was unavailable.



Bernard And Doris

Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 17th October 2007

Distributed by: HBO

Production compaines: Little Bird Production, Burnside Entertainment, Chicagofilms, Trigger Street Independent

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen

Starring: as Doris Duke, as Bernard Lafferty, Peter Asher as First Butler, as Security Guard, as Chef, Monique Gabriela Curnen as Paloma, April Yvette Thompson as Ms. Chang, Marilyn Torres as Nancy, as Waldo Taft, as Board Member

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.