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I registered on IMDb simply so I could share my appreciation of this
The three main characters were performed to perfection by the brilliant cast. Thank you for bringing this wonderful play to our screens. Good in all things except perhaps the extent to which it felt more like a stage production than a televisual one.
Paddy Considine particularly was spellbinding as his performance ranged from a man teetering on the brink of self annihilation, convinced his slightest misstep would result in his end, to conflicted. Presented with the stark depiction of a safe life without passion or a passionate life doomed to disaster his inner turmoil was made clear to us, and we felt his turmoil, fear and excitement.
A quiet but tense piece, definitely not for those who hope for blatant
excitement, being more a study of characters, each in his/her own
privately nightmarish situation. Essentially a three-hander between
Pryce, Considine and Thurman, all of whom turn in excellent
performances of a solid script with many well observed turns of phrase
and personality. Main weakness is how it dwells, for around 70 minutes,
on alcoholic addiction to the exclusion of most else; but, if you know
that going in, maybe you can handle it. Conversion from stage to screen
FWIW, the end credits show it as co-production of BBC and HBO.
I watched My Zinc Bed last night on BBC2. I had high hopes for this
one-off drama but quite frankly it was a truly awful piece of
Television. It was clearly made for American TV. Everything about it
felt fake: the over the top acting, the shots and the music. It was a
adapted from a play, but why? It was boring.
The story focuses on an alcoholic poet (Paddy Considine) who starts working for a millionaire businessman (Jonathan Pryce) after they meet for an interview. The poet then meets his wife (Uma Thurman) and the pair fall in love.
Every conversation was about the same thing. Being addicted to drink. The characters just kept winding each other up, which led to me being wound up and wanting to stop watching it. It tried to be so clever and intelligent but it was just dull. I think it failed because it went for the "less is more" strategy: one conversation between Uma Thurman (what attracted her to this TV movie in the first place?) and Paddy Considine led to them kissing and then being in love. And the only way that the audience knew that was through the weak narration.
Surely the BBC can do better in future.
Packed in a tight 75 + minutes, 'My Zinc Bed' follows a pretty simple structure. The film is mostly a chambre piece that is told through a series of conversations between three people: a recovering alcoholic poet, a businessman and his trophy wife. The director tackles the themes of alcoholism and desire through complicated relationships between the three characters. The tension is mostly built through dialogue. Paddy Considine, Jonathan Pryce and Uma Thurman deliver excellent performances as they get under the skin of the characters. Had lesser actors been cast, this would have been a borefest. Even though I find 75 minutes to be too short a time for a film's duration, I liked that the writer stays focused on the main story and its principle characters. Due to the complex themes, 'My Zinc Bed' may not be everybody's cup of tea and it has been an interesting and involving watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Paul Peplow, a recovering alcoholic, is sent to interview rich man,
Victor Quinn, who presides over a media company named Flotilla. Quinn,
who has obviously learned about Paul's problem, tries to interest the
younger man into having a drink with his lunch, something that Paul
refuses. Quinn is curious about what the poet has gotten out of his
treatment with A.A. The conversation does not lead into something a
newspaper might like to publish, but Paul, evidently, interests Victor
Quinn otherwise, when he offers him a job in his firm.
As Paul begins to work for Quinn, he meets Victor's much younger, and beautiful wife, Elsa, a woman that the older man met at a bar while she was drunk in a sorry state. Victor liked what he saw and ends up married to the ravishingly beautiful woman. As the two meet late one day in the office, revelations about themselves come out. Paul and Elsa end up in a passionate moment as it seems they are attracted to one another.
When Victor invites Paul to join he and Elsa at his home, Paul is a bit reluctant because his obvious interest in the wife. As the visit progresses Quinn wants to tempt Paul into trying one of his perfect "Margaritas", which the younger man resists, but the allure of the drink plays heavily on his mind and he accepts after the insistence of Victor. Needless to say, Paul begins a descent into his addiction, together with the no-win situation of ever having Elsa for himself.
David Hare, whose play is the basis of the film, adapted the material for the BBC presentation, co-sponsored by HBO. Not having seen the play, we cannot offer any comments on what is shown in this treatment for the small screen. Anthony Page directed. The best thing in the film is Jonathan Pryce, whose take on Victor Quinn is excellent. Mr. Pryce, one of the best English actors of his generation, lends an elegant hand to the story. Uma Thurman, who speaks with a Middle European accent, makes an impression, as does Paddy Considine with his Paul.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My Zinc Bed is a film written by David Hare, based on his play of the same name, which meditates on addiction, fidelity and friendship. It has a couple of very good performances, but a weak third lead and ambiguous themes keep it from achieving greatness. The film focuses on three people whose lives intersect over the course of a summer: Paul Peplow, Victor Quinn and Elsa Quinn, played by Paddy Considine, Jonathan Pryce and Uma Thurman respectively. Paul is poet and recovering alcoholic who is working in journalism to pay the bills. He is tapped to interview millionaire software magnate Victor, who eventually offers him a job. Victor is much more interested in Paul's alcoholism and his experiences with AA than in talking about himself, or in much else really. This causes some tension with Paul, particularly because Victor is very critical of the whole concept of AA, several times referring to it as a "cult" and claiming that those who attend meetings are "addicted" to the group. Things only get more complex when by chance Paul meets Elsa, Victor's much younger wife. The two develop an instant rapport, and end their first meeting with a passionate kiss, which Victor almost walks in on. Elsa herself was once an alcoholic, though she has eschewed the way of AA, apparently at the behest of her husband, and appears at least to be able to take the occasional drink with no ill consequences. As the film continues, the lives of these three become more and more entwined, which causes continued pain for all three. The wobbly third leg of this stool, however, is Uma Thurman. Her first problem is her accent, which is presumably Danish since Victor mentions meeting her for the first time in Copenhagen. The accent is clearly forced and seems to shift throughout the film, often sounding as if it might be Scottish or British. Perhaps straining for the accent retarded her usually competent acting abilities, because Thurman fails to reach the emotional levels necessary for her performance to be effective. The obvious gap between Pryce and Considine on the one hand and Thurman on the other makes for some uncomfortable viewing at times. Another issue, apart from the performances, is that the characters themselves are not particularly likable. It is possible that this was not a priority for the producers, but it is difficult to empathize with any of the three main characters. Paul is weak and inconstant. Pryce is manipulative at times and judgmental at others. Elsa is self deceiving and whiny. These people are interesting, but do not invite the viewer to invest himself in their fate. This lack of care for what happens to these three removes much of the power of the film's denouement. As for the exploration of alcoholism, and in particular the philosophy behind AA, the theme of the play could be best summed up by these words of Victor's, later repeated by Paul. "If you were cured, you would be cured of the desire. And who wants to be cured of desire?" This may reveal some inherent defects in twelve step programs, and AA in particular, but it leaves a lot unanswered and even unaddressed. Whether foregoing alcohol is worth the effort is at best skirted around. Paul is unable to write poetry when sober, and turns out brilliant verse when on the sauce, though he is then also subject to the humiliations of alcohol that he himself admits. Elsa as much as admits that her abandoning of AA has not cured her of alcoholism, and that she often spends nights in misery. What is being said here? It is not clear. This ambiguity leaves the viewer more confused than moved at the end of the film.
I disagree that this film was a waste of time. This piece was glorious with so many depths and the most wonderful acting, how could anyone not come away from this piece without feeling challenged. I love Jonathan Pryce and he was at his usual best but I felt all three characters rose to the challenge and pulled you into there world. At the end I went to bed debating The whys and therefore of why they had all needed to meet and realised the cleverness of a torn mans need to know his loves real feelings. You realise that in all the sadness the alcohol is the true baddie and just want to watch on to see a happy ending for the forlorn poet. Uma Thurman is beautiful in her desperation and need to be loved and the ultimate love story in all this is truly sad but compelling. one for the greatest drama lists.
This film is about a psychological tug of war between a rich guy and
two recovering alcoholics.
The first half of the film is just plain dialogs between people who do not even have any body gestures. To make matters worse, the scenes were shot with a statically positioned camera. The dialogs are probably meant to be sharp, crisp and challenging, but they turn out to be dull, repetitive and pretentious. Furthermore, the whole plot is so monotonous, pointless and narrow. It only repetitively talks about Paul's desire to stay abstinent despite Victor's challenges. And why did Victor challenge Paul in the first place? The filmmakers should have at least spend a little effort on character development.
"My Zinc Bed" is a huge waste of time.
Not quite sure what the film is trying to convey, but if it is implying
that you have two choices - a life without passion in AA and life of
passion and desire without AA and with active alcoholism, then that is
incorrect and misleading. I don't understand why it is implying that
joining AA to treat alcoholism is just a grim life of saying no to
everything and denying yourself things out of fear of being triggered.
That is not what AA is about. The goal is to be happy and functional.
To flourish in all aspects of life. Some achieve it, some don't. The
suggestion is to follow the tools of the program as fully as you can to
achieve the maximum results. There's a reason they say "stick around
for the miracle". People's lives improve in ways they never thought
possible. Their lives get bigger.
The grim life is either being an active alcoholic or gritting your teeth in abstinence but still being dysfunctional and miserable - a dry drunk. AA helps with much more than just stopping drinking. The real work begins after you stop the craving and stay sober. Then you use tools to maintain sobriety and deal with life "on life's terms".
How can someone write about AA just by having friends in it, going to a few meetings or reading about it? If you don't get it, you don't get it. But it feels like someone saying probably all psychiatric medicine makes you a zombie and it's no life. That is not true either. Medicine can change and save lives. But you have to take it.
Is this film positing that AA removes all possibilities in your life except a grim sobriety? It just isn't true. There is much joy, laughter, support and growth in AA. There is a whole syndrome behind alcoholism beyond drinking that is helped in AA: isolating, not asking for help, destructive behavior ("character defects"). Something feels very creepy in this film. As someone said elsewhere, if this film gives a suffering alcoholic a distrust of AA and causes them not to seek help, that would be an awful result.
I just want to state that I could not take my eyes off the screen until
the very end of this fine drama. I had a vague recollection of having
seen it before but fortunately no clear memory of how it ended. The
ending actually is somewhat anti-climactic given the intensity of the
Dialogue is quick: more often seen in a theatrical production than in a feature film. But this is not surprising given the source material.
A true gem that took me out of time for just over an hour.
Gee, I am short of the minimum ten lines ... So what else can be said?
Well, Uma Thurman's accent was a bit odd but not enough to spoil the drama.
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