The story of the twilight years of tobacco billionairess Doris Duke and her relationship with her gay butler, to whom she left her entire fortune.The story of the twilight years of tobacco billionairess Doris Duke and her relationship with her gay butler, to whom she left her entire fortune.The story of the twilight years of tobacco billionairess Doris Duke and her relationship with her gay butler, to whom she left her entire fortune.
"Bernard and Doris", an HBO film, directed by Bob Balaban, and conceived by Hugh Costello, is based on a relationship that is perhaps a fantasy in the mind of its creators. Fact and fiction are mixed freely, although this movie doesn't try to give us reality because after all, Doris Duke's real life story would have probably made a Hollywood epic.
Some things that come out in the film show us an heiress who enjoyed sex. That explains her marriage to Rubirosa a notorious man of mystical sexual prowess. Doris is seen bedding a rough man who, while satisfying her, he sought to have fun with her maid as well. When she fired the servant she immediately regrets it because of being fond of the way she worked.
Bernard Lafferty, a man that had a huge drinking problem, came to work for Doris during her last years. In the film, Bernard is subservient and meek, when reality indicates he probably ruled Doris life with an iron fist. The figure that emerges is not exactly who one could imagine him to be because of the many accusations after Doris' death. The real Lafferty and the screen Lafferty are two different persons.
The film is worth a look because of the work of the two principals. Susan Sarandon is totally convincing as Doris as is the case with Ralph Fiennes the way his character was conceived for this screen treatment. This is one of Susan Sarandon's best roles in quite some time. Mr. Fiennes is great fun to watch as the gay butler that loved to wear his employer's finery.
Maurice Rubinstein's cinematography captures the plush interiors of the Duke's estate. Alex Wurman contributed the music score and the editing of Andy Keir work well with Mr. Balaban overall concept.
- Jun 25, 2008