Critic Reviews



Based on 17 critic reviews provided by
The great performances in the movie are, of course, at its center. Gary Oldman plays Orton and Alfred Molina plays Halliwell, and these are two of the best performances of the year.
Gary Oldman’s superb livewire performance is now virtually an authentic testament of the man himself. Alfred Molina’s morose, self-hating Halliwell is also utterly convincing: Bennett’s script cleverly conveys their long years of bickering domesticity.
The script is witty, the direction fluid, with one of the homosexual orgy scenes in a public toilet almost balletic, and the depiction of the lovers’ life in their flat suitably claustrophobic. Gary Oldman is excellent as Orton, right down to remarkable resemblance, while Alfred Molina creates both an amusing and tormented Halliwell. Vanessa Redgrave takes top honors, though, as a compassionate and benign agent.
Other than the unfortunate miscasting of Molina, an otherwise superb actor, and Wallace Shawn's grating performance, everyone else is right on the money. Oldman, fresh from his triumph as Sex Pistol Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy, is the key and holds it all together.
Like Casablanca, Diva, Clockwork Orange and countless other quality-cult films, Prick Up Your Ears has an indefinable idiosyncrasy that makes you want to come back for more.
Time Out
Oldman is brilliant; Molina’s Halliwell less subtle; and the film’s dissection of cottaging quaintly amusing.
Village Voice
As a portrait of a relationship and a creative partnership, Prick is ever alert to the shifts in power, to the narcissistic wounds that can never be salved when a teacher is surpassed by his pupil.
A decent snapshot of pre-Beatle Britain, this is much more a fact-based gay melodrama than a trenchant portrait of Joe Orton's life, loves and art.
The film covers the main events of the Orton life in a manner that is nothing less than distracted. One has little understanding of the fatal intensity - and need - that kept Orton and Halliwell together.
The movie is a joyless, inconclusive affair. By not making Orton either a homosexual hero or a working-class hero, avenues that were both open to them and that lesser minds might have traveled down, the filmmakers have shown great intellectual taste. But it's not the kind of taste that's illuminating. Ultimately, they seem not to have known exactly what to make of their subject.

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