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The Designated Mourner (1997)

 -  Drama  -  23 May 1997 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 273 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 18 critic

Jack and Judy are husband and wife, and Howard is Judys father. They live in some fictional undemocratic and repressive country, and tell us a story about their lives, mostly from Jack's ... See full summary »

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Title: The Designated Mourner (1997)

The Designated Mourner (1997) on IMDb 6.1/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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David de Keyser ...
Howard (as David De Keyser)
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Storyline

Jack and Judy are husband and wife, and Howard is Judys father. They live in some fictional undemocratic and repressive country, and tell us a story about their lives, mostly from Jack's point of view. Written by Anonymous

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Drama

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Rated R for some language
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23 May 1997 (USA)  »

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Quotes

Jack: I kiss you, but it's as though my kisses hurtle off a cliff. You take off your clothes, but you're not naked. What can we do, then? What will happen?
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Talking it over
4 September 2005 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

'The Designated Mourner', a play by Wallace Shawn, is above all else an exercise in writing. Three people (in this adaptation by David Hare, sat statically throughout in one of two locations, one of which appears to be a television news desk, the other a table in a small café), discuss their relationship. But although they respond to each other in tone, they rarely directly address the subject material that the others refer to; and the wider backdrop to their personal story, a crypto-fascist coup, is mentioned only elliptically by all three participants, just as it might be in real conversation where certain things would be taken as known. But there's little that's naturalistic or conventionally conversational about these carefully constructed interlaced monologues; they better represent the inner voices of self-justification (or alternatively, the voices of published autobiography). In spite of the artifice, one does develop a sophisticated sense for the nuances of the trio's characters; everyone has an agenda, and deciphering the three unreliable narrators is exactly the point. Thi particular film of the play is well acted, and it's probably sensible that Hare has chosen to add very little to the basic script (having made this decision, almost his only work as director is to choose when to cut between alternative close-ups). But while theatre has to work within certain intrinsic limitations (and offers you the benefits of live performance as a compensation), cinema does not and in this sense, this seems a strange work to put on screen. Nonetheless, it's still an interesting experiment, and worth watching if you like your drama wordy and cerebral.


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