In a touring Shakespearean theater group, a backstage hand - the dresser, is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company. He struggles to support the deteriorating star as the company struggles to carry on during the London blitz. The pathos of his backstage efforts rival the pathos in the story of Lear and the Fool that is being presented on-stage, as the situation comes to a crisis. Written by
The original British production of "The Dresser" by Ronald Harwood opened at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester on 6th March 1980 and then transferred to the West End's Queen's Theatre in London on 30 April 1980. The production was nominated for the 1980 Olivier Award for Best Play. See more »
After Sir and Norman leave the marketplace, they're passed by a Routemaster bus. These buses were first used in London in 1954, and weren't used outside London until the 1970's. See more »
The critics? No, I have nothing but compassion for them. How can I hate the crippled, the mentally deficient, and the dead?
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What happens backstage is always true drama. And often pure comedy. Such is the case of The Dresser, a film about an effeminate wardrobe man who is devoted to the deteriorating lead of the acting troupe he travels with. The film takes place in one night about a particularly difficult performance of William Shakespeare's King Lear. Albert Finney plays Sir, the lead role of the performance. He is in no condition to perform such a difficult role, yet he perseveres anyways with the help of his Dresser, Norman (Tom Courtenay). The two powerful leads are the highlight of this beautiful film.
The Dresser is what acting is all about. It is an intriguing blend of film acting and stage acting. Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay give exquisite and robust performances. Their conflicting personalities make them a delightful pair to watch interact. The acting in this film has the kind of prowess and impact of a stage performance with its loud and exaggerated movements. This kind of acting only works in certain settings, and The Dresser is a perfect example of where it not only works but is very necessary. It allows for a detachment from reality, drawing one into the theatrical world, something which stands out in such a unique and perplexing way.
Peter Yates directs this film with precise and aesthetically glamorous grandeur. It is a grand film that doesn't go too far out of line and never gets lost in itself. Yates directs with a keen eye for subtle detail and sparkling brilliance. The film is written with the same kind of subdued wit and beauty, making the film fit together nicely. The dialouge is great and the actors who deliver it bring so much life to the characters and script that it makes for a brilliant expose of the acting world.
The Dresser is a great film that accomplishes beauty and immersion without an immaculate setting. The film is subtly fantastic. Definitely check this one out.
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