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Review: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

Directed by: Stephen Hopkins

Premise: A biopic of the late actor Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush).

What Works: The film has a great fondness for its subject matter but it is not afraid to portray the darker side of Sellers’ personality. Rush gives a great performance as Peter Sellers. He is able to portray Sellers’ bipolar tendencies in ways that make the character more engaging, and he uses his own manic and mischievous energy to keep Sellers interesting even when he fails to be likeable. The supporting cast is also impressive, including Emily Watson as Anne Sellers and John Lithgow as Blake Edwards. One of the film’s most ingenious devices is to give Rush as Sellers moments in which he plays the other characters of the film. This adds another layer of texture to the film and to the character and keeps both unpredictable.

What Doesn’t: The film spends surprisingly little time with Seller’s creative process and ignores this opportunity to explore Sellers’ psyche. Charlize Theron appears in a thankless and largely thrown away role as Britt Ekland, one of Sellers’ many wives.

DVD extras: Audio commentaries, deleted scenes, featurette.

Bottom Line: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is a terrific biopic. The performances are solid and the picture is extremely well put together. This is a breakthrough for director Hopkins, who has made quite a few films in the action and science fiction genres (Lost in Space, Predator 2) but none have been this good.

Episode: #78 (December 18, 2005)