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
Famed true-crime author, journalist and mover within exclusive society and socialite circles, the late Dominick Dunne, makes a cameo appearance as a member of Doris Duke's advisory board. 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 »
and the pairing of Ralph Fiennes as Bernard Lafferty, her trusted butler and confidante is quite interesting. I have read the biography "Too Rich, the story of Doris Duke", and this film seems by far, more accurate and even amusing (as life often is). If we for example, compare this to the mediocre Lauren Bacall version, which does not portray Lafferty as human, rather as a murderous bottom-feeder. Too extreme, and probably unrealistic.
Yes, Ms. Duke did apparently have a very unusual life, but we see her here, as Sarandon plays here, she also enjoyed and cherished life. We see her working fervently on her orchids, all the foundations she was passionate about, and her general intelligence. She was clearly a brilliant businesswoman, as Lafferty interjects.
This film portrays real people, yes, she had an issue with drinking, as did Lafferty. However there was a tenderness and relationship which seemed to have developed between the two. Overall an interesting commentary with excellent performances and lush cinematography, attention to set decoration. 9/10.
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