Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
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Sympathetic look loosely based on the relationship between tobacco heiress, Doris Duke (1912-1993) - think Duke University - and her shy butler, Bernard Lafferty. The icy and mercurial Duke fires her butler for serving a chilled cantaloupe; the agency sends Lafferty, formerly household staff to Liz Taylor and to Peggy Lee. He's an alcoholic, fresh out of rehab. He gradually becomes Duke's gay alter ego as she romps through life sleeping with young men, making shrewd decisions quickly, managing her fortune and orchids as Lafferty manages her New Jersey estate. With a wine cellar to die for, Bernard falls off the wagon. Can he pull himself together when Doris needs him? Written by
After being shown at a film festival, "Bernard and Doris" was sent directly to cable television rather than premiering in movie theatres. See more »
"She said it was important. 'Perhaps I will get the feeling back ..." It's the same body of a newspaper article for two different articles. Around 23 minutes into movie. One article had headline of Doris Duke attending opening with Leonard Bernstein. The second headline was her buying a Boeing 737 for $25 million. See more »
One thing you can say about this film is that the lead cast do not let you down. There are really only two actors here, Sarandon and Fiennes and they are the only things that stop this film being dreadful. She is quite believable as a rich, bad tempered cosseted poorly educated boor. She radiates everything that is wrong about unearned income. She cares for nothing and nobody but herself and her attempts at 'spiritual development' are so nauseating that it's tempting to fast-forward. Bernard seems such an unperson, a person of such low self-esteem that he only lives through his pathetic arse-kissing of Doris. There really was no reason to make a film about two such dull people. On the plus side though, there is no glossing over the shallowness of their lives, and that's something Hollywood rarely does convincingly.
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