6.9/10
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16 user 13 critic

A Delicate Balance (1973)

PG | | Drama | April 1976 (UK)
A well-to-do Connecticut family is upended when the grown daughter's godparents, seized by a nameless terror, decide to come live with them.

Director:

Tony Richardson

Writers:

Edward Albee (play), Edward Albee (adapted for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Katharine Hepburn ... Agnes
Paul Scofield ... Tobias
Lee Remick ... Julia
Kate Reid ... Claire
Joseph Cotten ... Harry
Betsy Blair ... Edna
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Storyline

In Connecticut, Agnes and Tobias are an upper-class married couple whose relationship has been uneasy for many years, since at least the time their son died; but they've managed to find a certain comfortable pattern of uneasiness. Agnes's sister, Claire, lives with them and insists that her perpetual drinking is not alcoholism but willfulness. Their daughter, Julia, poised to have her fourth divorce, has come back home. Unexpectedly, her room has been taken over by Harry and Edna, best friends of Tobias and Agnes. Seized by a nameless terror that propelled them out of their own house, Harry and Edna have decided to stay. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The sister who drank too much. The daughter who divorced too much. They're all there when Tobias and Agnes have their little get-together and tear-apart.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1976 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Balansgång See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Katharine Hepburn as Agnes, mother to Julia (Lee Remick), plays the only mother in the film. In real life, Hepburn was the only one of the film's 4 actresses (incl. Remick, Kate Reid and Betsy Blair) who wasn't a mother. See more »

Quotes

Agnes: Time! Time happens, I suppose, to people. Everything becomes... too late, finally. You know it's going on up on the hill; you can see the dust, and hear the cries, and the steel... but you wait, and time happens. When you do go, sword, shield... finally... there's nothing there... save rust, bones and the wind.
See more »

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User Reviews

Fierce Females, Gentle Men
7 October 1999 | by Nicky-43See all my reviews

Director Tony Richardson's presentation of "A Delicate Balance" could be dismissed for it's lack of edginess and it's gentrified (albeit screwed up) characters. It is also what critics would call a "stagy" film. Yet it is redeemed from this dour damnation because of Albee's wonderful way with words, the rich cinematography, and exceptional acting, exceptionally well cast: Katherine Hepburn, Paul Scofield, Lee Remick, Joseph Cotton.

For those looking for a violent film -- not in the form of bullets or explosions -- but of verbal surgical strikes, this is it. Edward Albee's dialogue provides all the female (yes, this would be considered a "woman's movie") protagonists and antagonists (one wonders at times which is which) a laser like aim against their primary targets: other women. And it is done under a guise of "civility"; sometimes, with a smile.

The stand-out among these veteran actors is Kate Reid, who plays Claire, the alcoholic in-law who at times gives the most voice to the story, set amid a dysfunctional Connecticut family. But even her performance can't out weigh the constant barrage of verbal cross-fire from her friends and in-laws. Yet the twist here is that the aggressors are the women, while the men attempt to keep the peace as best they can -- only firing back if attacked by the females.

This isn't a film for everyone; it's definitely the stuff of classic drawing room (psycho) drama. But for those who can appreciate consummate acting armed with deft dialogue, make yourself a nice cup of tea -- spiked with a shot or two of brandy -- and check this out.


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