Estranged since their father's first stroke some 17 years earlier, Lee and Bessie lead separate lives in separate states. Lee's son, Hank, finds himself committed to a mental institution after setting fire to his mother's house. His younger brother, Charlie, seems unfazed by his brother's eccentricities or his mother's seeming disinterest. When Lee comes to the asylum to spring Hank for a week in Florida so that he can be tested as a possible bone marrow donor for Bessie, Hank is incredulous. "I didn't even know you had a sister," he says. "Remember, every Christmas, when I used to say 'Well, looks like Aunt Bessie didn't send us a card again this year?'" "Oh yeah," Hank says. Meanwhile, Marvin, the two women's bedridden father, has "been dying for the past twenty years." "He's doing it real slow so I don't miss anything," Bessie tells Dr. Wally. In Bessie's regular doctor's absence, it has fallen to Dr. Wally to inform Bessie that she has leukemia and will die without a bone marrow ... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <email@example.com>
Sigourney Weaver, Anjelica Huston and Kathleen Turner were all considered for the role ultimately played by Diane Keaton. See more »
When Lee and Bessie are waiting in the retirement home, when Lee says "I feel like my life is finally starting" you can see the boom mic in the top left hand corner, above her head. See more »
Uh, Janine, I wonder if you could tell me how long I might have to wait, because I left Aunt Ruth at home in charge of dad, and...
You'll have to see Doctor Wally, because Doctor Serrot is on vacation.
[finishes typing "I quit" letter]
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The producers wish to thank ... the staff and guests of Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, Orlando Florida, ... the residents and staff of The Florida Manor Nursing Home ... See more »
Intimate dramas are the hardest to film - well worth the effort when they work though
Small cast, intimate dramas like MARVIN'S ROOM, NIGHT MOTHER or STEEL MAGNOLIAS are among the hardest to adapt from the confines of the stage where the imagination can open the plays ideas up and make what might seem maudlin, real and life affirming to the more realistic form of film where it is harder to see beyond the mundane "bed pan" realities of life. In order to reinvent the best of these - like the plays mentioned above - to the new genre, every break is needed starting with bravura casts who, one hopes, an audience will want to see even "reading the phone book." When a play turns around the characters dealing literally with confrontations with death at the core of the plot as in these three great plays, what HAD been on stage a single set intense evening is frequently "opened up" with all sorts of other locations and events almost as if to distract us from the very issues which we are supposed to be attending to.
On stage and screen MARVIN'S ROOM may well be the best of these three "death plays," all of which started and thrived Off-Broadway (only NIGHT MOTHER made the leap to a Broadway house in its initial production). While, somewhat amazingly (considering that one of the standards of the award is "depiction of American life"), MARVIN'S ROOM was not even a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1992, it did win a number of other accolades which virtually demanded that Hollywood attempt to bring it to the rest of the nation - and they certainly gave it their all starting with the genuinely all star cast which is both the movie's blessing and its curse. It enraptures with the bouquet of bravura performances even while moving focus away from the central "earth-mother" of the family forced to face her own mortality while trying to care for and hold her collapsing family together around her (Diane Keaton's Oscar nomination - the film's only
Ultimately, the film gets where the play was going (as well it ought to have, since Scott McPherson had the luxury of adapting his own play - he may have written his screenplay simultaneously with, if not before the tighter stage version, since he died in 1992, the year MARVIN'S ROOM received its Off-Broadway production at Playwrights' Horizons, winning the Outer Critics' Circle and Drama Desk Awards as best Play of the Year), but the power seems to have shifted from the play's revelations themselves to the dazzling performances. It's still well worth taking the trip, but more to appreciate a monument to more than a dozen brilliant stage and screen careers than a revelatory experience on the meaning of humanity in the face of life and death that the play had been.
Do, by all means see the movie. It works. ...but if you ever get a chance to see the play which either suggested it or grew from it, by all means do - it's smaller but even better.
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