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Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell (1999)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy | Drama  -  23 December 1999 (UK)
8.0
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Peter O'Toole stars as the complex, funny, charming, and hard-drinking Jeffrey Bernard in this live performance at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

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Timothy Ackroyd
Sarah Berger
Annabel Leventon
Royce Mills
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Peter O'Toole stars as the complex, funny, charming, and hard-drinking Jeffrey Bernard in this live performance at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

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Comedy | Drama

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23 December 1999 (UK)  »

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Jeffrey Bernard: It takes longer to get a drink in here than it does to get a refund out of the inland revenue.
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A majestic tour de force
2 February 2003 | by (Turku, Finland) – See all my reviews

Keith Waterhouse's tribute to his own very good friend is not a play that is to be attempted by the faint hearted. Its demands upon the main protagonist are severe. Peter O'Toole keeps on the right side of mawkishness as he recounts the memories of a vodka sodden journalist, Jeffrey Barnard. Jeffrey Barnard's binges would, upon occasion, lead to his missing the deadline for his weekly column in the political weekly 'The Spectator' when his Low Life column would be replaced with the terse euphemistic title of the play.

The play is really a consummately delivered monologue. It is a lament for a Soho that has now passed. All the bohemian characters have now been replaced by wannabes, striking poses rather than living lives. Jeffrey Barnard could easily be dismissed as a boring old conservative but this danger is easily averted by the thick vein of madcap humour. This play is hysterically funny as Jeff recounts his views on women, wives, ex- and present, and his passions for gambling, horses and drink and hostelries. A puritan would not enjoy this, but its portrait of an unrepentant roue is beautifully paced and it is not without its moments of genuine pathos. I do urge you to see it.


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