The Life & Death of Peter Sellers

The Life & Death of Peter Sellers
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Charlize Theron, John Lithgow, Miriam Margoyles, Stephen Fry, Stanley Tucci, Emily Watson
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Writer: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (based on a book by Roger Lewis)
Genre: Drama
Rated: M medium level coarse language, adult themes, drug use, low level sex scenes
Running Time: 122 Minutes

Never Judge A Man By His Cover

'The Life And Death Of Peter Seller's traces the British comic's turbulent rise from popular BBC radio performer to one of the world's most gifted comedic actors. Propelled by an overly possessive mother, Sellers struggled to reconcile his relationship with women, celebrity and his many selves. Confidence eluded him despite his marriages, critical acclaim, and professional successes.

Starring Geoffrey Rush (Academy Award winner for Best Actor, 'Shine'; Academy Award nominee for the Best Supporting Actor,'Quills'), Charlize Theron (Academy Award winner for Best Actress, 'Monster'; 'The Italian Job', 'The Cider House Rules'), John Lithgow ('Terms of Endearment', 'The World According to Garp'), Miriam Margolyes ('Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', 'Babe'), and Stephen Fry ('Gosford Park', 'A Fish Called Wanda'), with Stanley Tucci ('Road to Perdition', 'The Pelican Brief'), and Emily Watson ('Punch-Drunk Love',' Gosford Park'). Directed by Stephen Hopkins ('Under Suspicion', 'The Ghost and the Darkness').

My Verdict:
Brilliant. No other word can be used to describe Geoffrey Rush's performance as Peter Sellers. As Seller's, Rush has managed to find those qualities that took over the man - the total insecurity, the immense uncertainty, the doubt about who he was. Seller's was by all accounts a man in constant turmoil about who he was and where he was going. "If you ask me to play myself, I will not know what to do. I do not know who or what I am" being a famous quote.

'The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers' takes place from Sellers time in radio on 'The Goon Show' to his final movie 'Being There'(1979) which he strived to make for seven years and was finally successful and even managed to gain an Academy AwardŽ nomination as Best Actor. The film is about the man, not his movies but does cover some of his film work. Sellers first marriage to Anne Howe (played by the ever wonderful Emily Watson) was a tumultuous one, ending in divorce after 10 years but giving him two of his children, Michael and Sarah. His second marriage to Britt Ekland (played by the gorgeous Charlize Theron) is given plenty of screen time as it was a very public marriage, the two even working on film together. Their lives are shown as very confused, with Sellers still searching for the reality of a serious relationship, whilst being totally cared and nurtured for by Ekland. It was during the early days of this marriage that Sellers had serious heart attack.

During the film, Sellers unexpectedly takes over the roles of some of the important people in his life - including his mother to whom he had an almost Oedipus connection and Blake Edwards, the director of the Pink Panther movies. Rush performs these roles in an almost farcical fashion, trying desperately to elucidate their thoughts and rationalise them.

This is a movie that has a lot happening and it covers a lot of ground in a relatively short time. Peter Sellers was obviously a very complex man who was as much an enigma to those close to him as he was to himself and for this reason he was a very sad man. So often, the saddest internal person is the comic clown on stage and Sellers was the ultimate sad clown. Geoffrey Rush has managed to portray the definitive Sellers and should be rewarded with the knowledge that he was simply the best choice for role. The movie is based on a book by Roger Lewis and is not based on an autobiography but is a movie definitely worth seeing regardless of your opinion of Peter Sellers.

Rating : A

Christina Bruce