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The Designated Mourner (1997)

R | | Drama | 23 May 1997 (USA)
Jack and Judy are husband and wife, and Howard is Judys father. They live in some fictional undemocratic and repressive country, and tell us a story about their lives, mostly from Jack's ... See full summary »


David Hare


Wallace Shawn (play), Wallace Shawn

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Complete credited cast:
Mike Nichols ... Jack
Miranda Richardson ... Judy
David de Keyser David de Keyser ... Howard (as David De Keyser)


Jack and Judy are husband and wife, and Howard is Judys father. They live in some fictional undemocratic and repressive country, and tell us a story about their lives, mostly from Jack's point of view. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language


Official Sites:

First Look Pictures





Release Date:

23 May 1997 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Jack: The past and the future don't actually exist. I mean where are they?
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User Reviews

Pretentious? Yes. Sparse and visually dull? Yes. Fascinating? Yes.
25 November 2004 | by samjappySee all my reviews

"The Designated Mourner" is obviously not a cinema film in any meaningful sense. It is a play staged for cinema recording. Three characters and a table; that is the amount of it. None of the characters interact, instead directly addressing the camera. Perhaps this is boring, if visual stimulation is a requirement of cinema, but yet it seemed utterly compelling to me.

The performances from all three of the cast are riveting, but it is Nichols who raises this above the usual public-subsidised arty nonsense. He is quite simply revelatory. As a man whom most know for his directorial work, the depth of the performance is a great surprise. Very possibly his almost "non-acting" style could be attributed to the fact that he is not a professional *film* actor, but the naturalistic style he employs lends his character such a gravity. It is almost documentary in it's sincerity. Jack is a deeply flawed man, in many ways a reprehensible man, who merely assumes the intellectual values of those around him while in fact cultivating considerable distaste for his high-brow friends. He is, though, often a very funny man and it never becomes impossible to understand or empathise with him. His epiphany at the climax of the film, surrounded by cheap magazines and pornography, is completely heart-breaking. As the title of the film begins to make a terrible, Orwellian sense, we are left with nothing but this broken man, lamenting unavoidable actions in which he seems almost complicit.

This is certainly an important piece of work, if perhaps not an important *film*, if nothing else, it will give people who may never have the chance to see the play staged the opportunity to see it performed.

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