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Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007)

TV Movie  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama  |  23 September 2007 (UK)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 3,988 users  
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A writer (Cumberbatch) takes a backwards look at the life of his unlikely friend Stuart (Hardy), a homeless alcoholic who experienced a traumatic event in his childhood.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
Judith
Claire-Louise Cordwell ...
Karen
Edna Doré ...
Gran
...
Sophie
Joanna Maude ...
Ruth
Trevor Sellers ...
John
Barbara Barnes ...
Wintercomfort Secretary
Hugh Armstrong ...
Old Drunk
George Anton ...
Dangerous Ginger
Dominic Kemp ...
Academic Man
Shenagh Govan ...
Bookish Woman
Caroline Parker ...
Deaf Jackie
Richard Cant ...
Dainty Man
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Storyline

When Stuart Shorter - a homeless alcoholic with a violent past - meets writer and charity worker Alexander Masters, they strike up an unlikely friendship. As Alexander learns more about Stuart's complicated life and traumatic childhood, he asks if he can write his story and Stuart advises him to tell the story backwards, so that it's "More exciting - like a Tom Clancy murder mystery". As their remarkable alliance develops, Stuart gradually recounts his life story in reverse, his resilient personality and dry sense of humour giving the story an almost tragi-comic edge. Through post office heists, attempts at suicide and spells inside numerous institutions, Alexander is given a glimpse into a totally alien world and begins to understand how Stuart's life spiralled so badly out of control. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

23 September 2007 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Stjuart: Zivot Unatraske  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Post Office featured in 1979 and 1993 scenes is the former Post Office (now an empty shop) at Fen Ditton, near Cambridge. See more »

Goofs

When Alexander lets Stuart into his house for the first time (about 7-8 minutes into the film) the shadow of the camera falls on the door as he closes it. See more »

Quotes

Stuart Shorter: [pointing to a book titled 'Mauve'] This one... what's this one about?
Alexander Masters: The colour mauve.
Stuart Shorter: How do they fucking get away with this?
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Rare, Droll Film About Human Diversity And The Things We All Share
24 September 2007 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

As Mark Twain once said, 'Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction', and that is certainly the case in Stuart: A Life Backwards.

A BBC Drama written by Alexander Masters, it is based on his acclaimed account of the real life of Stuart Shorter, a self-harming drug addict, career criminal (with a long history of violence), who is also homeless and suffers from muscular dystrophy.

This film, made for BBC TV, directed by veteran filmmaker David Attwood, is a dramatisation which skillfully and sinuously reconstructs the events that culminated in Alexander Masters publishing Stuart's unconventional biography. In an early scene, Stuart provides Alexander with the insight into how to write his unconventional book, 'Do it backwards...Like a murder mystery...what murdered the boy I was?' So Alexander sets out in this mode, trying to piece together the depressing, shocking trajectory of Stuart's life. But, unexpected to both men, in the process Stuart and Alexander become part of each other's life, transgressing socio-cultural boundaries and evolving a genuine, if eccentric, friendship.

This drama, unlike the majority of films based on extreme lives, does not simplify its subject, reducing its characters to two-dimensions eliciting cheap sentimentality. The characters in Stuart: A Life Backwards are not stripped of their complexities. Rather, they evince depth and subtlety. Stuart is not glamorised or victimised. He is vulgar, unfair, shockingly abusive, as well as sensitive, understanding and insightful. Nor is Masters made into a stock supporting character. He is at times the clear victim of middle class culture shock and has to fight his tendency to condescend. In short, they seem honest recreations of human beings.

Tom Hardy engages as Stuart, giving a tough and intelligent performance, and recreates his character's extreme physical traits with little mannerism. Benedict Cumberbatch also rises to his own, different challenge as Stuart's friend and witness with understatement and subtlety.

Stuart: A Life Backwards is a rare, droll, moving film that grows to understand the maddening complexity of life and subsequent near hopelessness in trying to find the factors behind someone's life. Instead, Stuart: A Life Backwards is a film about human diversity and the things we all share.


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