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Monday, January 1, 2018

The Philanthropist (1974)

In a small university town, a young professor (Ronald Pickup) and his fiancee (Helen Mirren) give an intimate dinner party for four guests. In spite of the political upheaval around them, they seem rather indifferent and as the evening progresses, personal relationships are about to uncouple and couple. Based on the 1971 play by Christopher Hampton (DANGEROUS LIAISONS) and directed by Stuart Burge. It begins with an unexpected suicide which is never referenced again and for the remaining 90 minutes, we get lots of dialogue which I found rather tedious and without a clear cut focus. I assume I'm in the minority because the play received three Tony nominations including best play and it was even revived on Broadway in 2009 with Matthew Broderick in Pickup's role. Its lead character is a rather indecisive bore (even his fiancee thinks so) and he's our main protagonist! A play about a bore has every chance of being a bore and this one gets dangerously close! Three performances save it from crashing: Mirren, Charles Gray (DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER) as a cynical right wing author and Jacqueline Pearce as a promiscuous vixen. With James Bolam, Colin Higgins and Amanda Knott.

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