The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

"Very Good"

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers Review


Discussion topic: Which of the following people can accurately be described as "comic geniuses"? Woody Allen. Adam Sandler. Groucho Marx. Gilda Radner.

You're unlikely to get consensus on such a phrase, except for one: Peter Sellers. Everybody knows he was a genius, right?

Sellers was in fact an immensely successful movie star, but his elusive adaptability made him truly great. He achieved box office viability in the United States with the broadest possible physical comedy (the Pink Panther series), but also garnered a powerful artistic legacy from his star turns in seriocomic masterpieces (Dr. Strangelove and Being There). Sellers differentiator was that, unlike, say, Allen or Sandler, he was a uniquely talented actor. But he was also apparently plenty of other things to the people around him, none of which garnered acclaim.

In The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, based on Roger Lewis' biography of the man, director Stephen Hopkins and star Geoffrey Rush take on the challenge of creating an emotionally engaging biopic of man who was, of his own admission, an empty vessel. Indeed, this Sellers is so obsessed with his own vacant self, so star struck, that he can only relate to other humans by using and discarding them.

Rush's Sellers lies to his wives, emotionally savages his children, deludes himself about his relationships with co-stars and partners, and basically acts like a spoiled jackass in his push for fame and fortune. Egged on by his coddling and Machiavellian mother (Margolyes), Sellers botches stardom badly, leaving a polluted wake of disgust and loathing. But no one loathes Sellers quite like himself, and his famous method acting only enabled him to avoid himself for a few weeks of filming.

In an unusual dramatic twist, Rush performs monologues as other characters in Sellers' life in order to illustrate the extremity of the man's ego. Overall, however, Hopkins maintains an air of ambiguity about Sellers' psyche, which occasionally reduces the film to emotional snuff, nothing more than a parade of unabated personal destruction. Sellers' borderline humanity created a tortuously unhappy life, and the gloominess of this cinematic version contrasts jarringly with the vibrancy of Sellers' work.

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is worth a viewing if only for Rush's plotting and violent outbursts, but be warned: Next time you catch a Pink Panther flick on cable, you might find yourself rooting for Cato.



The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st October 2004

Distributed by: Home Box Office

Production compaines: HBO Films, BBC Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Peter Sellers, as Britt Ekland, as Anne Sellers, as Blake Edwards, as Stanley Kubrick, as Peg Sellers

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

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.