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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Wild Duck (1984)

An impoverished photographer (Jeremy Irons) lives in seeming contentment with his wife (Liv Ullmann) and daughter (Lucinda Jones). But with the arrival of a school chum (Arthur Dignam) whose philosophy is that the truth will set you free and who is determined the family peel away the lies and build a new happiness based on truth, quite the opposite happens. Anyone who's read or seen a production of Henrik Ibsen's THE WILD DUCK knows how impossibly cruel the play is and that a successful production needs actors who invest the characters with a humanity which pulls us into the unsettling surroundings and will make the play's tragic end sting. This film of Ibsen's play transfers the play's setting from Norway to Australia (where it was filmed) which doesn't add anything to the narrative but worse, it softens Ibsen's final arrow with a clumsy ambiguous ending. The character of Gregers (called Gregory in the film) is an infuriating, meddling idealist and rather than giving him any redeemable or attractive qualities to play against, he's played by a physically unattractive actor (Dignam) with an annoying presence which undermines the character. Directed by Henri Safran. With Michael Pate and John Meillon.

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