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The Dresser

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PG
1983

The Dresser is a British drama film from 1983, directed by Peter Yates and adapted from a play of the same name by Ronald Harwood. The film stars Albert Finney as Sir, an ageing actor-manager struggling to keep his company afloat during World War II. His devoted dresser, Norman (Tom Courtenay), is the only person standing by his side as he faces an uncertain future.

The Dresser is set in the backstage world of a small provincial touring theatre during the Blitz. The play that Sir and his company are performing is Shakespeare's King Lear, and Sir is playing the lead role. Despite his declining health, Sir demands perfection from his cast and crew, insisting on numerous dress rehearsals in the run-up to opening night. Norman, his dresser and confidant, is responsible for helping him get into character and maintaining his fragile mental state.

Norman, played brilliantly by Tom Courtenay, is the film's heart and soul. He is a dedicated, long-suffering servant who has dedicated his life to supporting Sir, despite the countless humiliations he endures. Norman's loyalty is tested to the limit as Sir becomes more erratic and difficult to work with. Courtenay's performance is a tour de force, oscillating between moments of tenderness and desperation as he tries to hold his employer and friend together.

Albert Finney is equally impressive as Sir, delivering a commanding performance as the fading star. Sir is a complex character, whose mood swings and tantrums belie a deep vulnerability. Finney's portrayal is nuanced and layered, and he captures the character's personal demons with skill.

The supporting cast is also excellent, including Edward Fox as Oxenby, the theatre company's stage manager, who is trying his best to keep the production on track. Eileen Atkins, as Madge, a long-suffering actress, is also noteworthy. Her brief scene with Sir towards the end of the film is a masterclass in acting, with both actors conveying a deep sense of loss and melancholy.

The Dresser is a powerful meditation on the nature of art and ageing, and the sacrifices that artists and their supporters make in the pursuit of greatness. The film is a love letter to the theatre, with Yates' direction emphasising the cramped and claustrophobic backstage world. The film's visual style is stark, with muted colours and harsh lighting contributing to the sense of unease and tension that pervades the film.

The film's themes are universal, and the struggles faced by Sir and Norman are relatable to anyone who has worked in the arts. The Dresser is about the pain of letting go of the things you love, and the reality of fading into obscurity. However, it is also a film about the transformative power of art and the ways in which it can change lives. Sir and his company may be struggling to put on a production, but their work has a profound effect on those who witness it.

In conclusion, The Dresser is a masterpiece of British cinema. It is a film that is both entertaining and deeply moving, featuring outstanding performances from its entire cast. The film's themes are timeless, and its message about the transformative power of art is as relevant today as it was in 1983. The Dresser is a must-see for anyone who loves theatre or appreciates great acting.

The Dresser is a Drama movie released in 1983. It has a runtime of 118 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.5..

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7.5/10
Director
Peter Yates
Stars
Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Eileen Atkins, Edward Fox, Zena Walker
Genres
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