Critic Reviews



Based on 16 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
It's a movie based on an idea, and all the conventional wisdom agrees that emotions, not ideas, are the best to make movies from. But Being There pulls off its long shot and is one of the most confoundingly provocative movies of the year.
Hal Ashby's direction is perfect in realizing the offbeat humor and gentle satire of the piece.
Jerzy Kosinski's modern fable gets a terrific translation to the screen due to his tight screenplay, capable direction by Ashby, and a marvelous performance by Sellers, one unlike any other in his career.
Being There finds humor in the way Sellers becomes a blank screen on which people project their expectations. But it also finds value in his simplicity, which might seem like a lot of New Age hokum if not for Sellers' disarmingly quiet performance.
Being There is a highly unusual and an unusually fine film. A faithful but nonetheless imaginative adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski's quirky comic novel, pic marks a significant achievement for director Hal Ashby and represents Peter Sellers' most smashing work since the mid-1960s.
Slant Magazine
Elegiac and yet ruefully funny, Hal Ashby’s Being There is at once a profoundly philosophical fable about how we become truly human only in the face of our ineluctable mortality, as well as an incensed satire intent on skewering the mass media’s unhealthy sway among the corridors of wealth and power.
Here is a comedy that valiantly defies both gravity and the latest Hollywood fashion.
Hal Ashby directs Being There at an unruffled, elegant pace, the better to let Mr. Sellers's double-edged mannerisms make their full impression upon the audience.
The director, Hal Ashby, has affected a restrained, understated style to match the subtlety and precision of Sellers's performance. No one seems to know what to do with the allegorical undertone of Jerzy Kosinski's script, but as a whole this 1979 film maintains a fine level of wit, sophistication, and insight.
Time Out
Sellers's performance—as the innocent neuter figure who rises accidentally to political power on the strength of vacant homilies—is remarkable. But Ashby's direction is marred by the same softness that made The Last Detail and Coming Home so morally bland.

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