Running Time: 122 mins.
One could do a tribute, one could do an overview of a career, one could do a family portrait, one could do a warts and all (or at least bits) study of a celebrity, one could probe and illustrate the work of a comic genius who succumbed to fame while never really growing up. This intriguing film attempts all of the above and, for a two hour film, does quite a good job of all of them. By the end of the film, we have a chronology of Sellers' life and career, seen him with his family - and done some psychological speculation, glimpsed many of the high spots with accurate re-enactments, been dismayed at the moodiness and immaturity of the man, regretting the behind the scenes hurts he inflicted even on those he loved while still managing to create a host of memorable comic characters.
Screenwriters, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, have condensed a great deal of material into the two hours. Director Stephen Hopkins creates a variety of moods and several worlds: homes, studios, cinema glamour. In this he has assisted immeasurably by his cast, especially Geoffrey Rush who once again illustrates the wide extent of his talent, submerging himself in the role, impersonating Sellers' radio and movie moments skillfully while creating a real character, an object of love and hate. He also impersonates several other members of the cast, including his mother, father, wife, Kubrick and Edwards, in their roles.
Emily Watson is fine as his wife, Anne, while Charlize Theron is a glamorous and bewildered Britt Eklund. Miriam Margoyles creates the obsessive and possessive mother, Peg, while Peter Vaughan is quietly ineffectual (later being a model for Chance, the gardener) as his father. Many celebrities appear, including Blake Edwards (John Lithgow) and Stanley Kubrick (Stanley Tucci).
For those who remember Peter Sellers and cherish his characters, this is a must. It may open up the work of the actor for younger audiences.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.