Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just watched...

...Alan J. Pakula's "Love And Pain And The Whole Damn Thing."

After he made “Klute” with Jane Fonda, Pakula directed “Love And Pain And The Whole Damn Thing” in 1973. Starring Timothy Bottoms and Maggie Smith, this film is a sweet, quirky mix of screwball comedy, love story and 1970s counter-culture/isolation film. Bottoms, who plays Walter Elbertson, is an odd young man. We learn that he has been under the care of a psychiatrist in the past and has trouble concentrating in college. There was no name for it then, but now I am sure Walter would be considered a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism in which the person maintains cognitive and linguistic functionality. In an effort to occupy his son’s time, and probably out of impatience and an inability to relate to his son, Walter’s father sends him on a bicycle riding tour through Spain for the summer. But he soon ditches the tour and hops on a bus belonging to a totally different tour. There he meets Lila Fisher, played by a young and surprisingly lovely Maggie Smith, on holiday from Bournemouth. She too is awkward and has difficulty with social interactions. Forced to sit next to each other on the bus, they struggle to communicate, perhaps sensing something in each other. Their budding relationship is rocky and fraught with pratfalls (aside from exhibiting excellent comic timing, Maggie Smith is quite a physical comedienne as well!) and genuine efforts to connect on a meaningful level. Watching the two of them play characters who are longing to escape their own personal prisons is fascinating and while I always knew Bottoms’ work as an actor, I have a newfound respect for Maggie Smith whom I have always known as somewhat of a character actress. The two of them are marvelous… together or alone.

Recommend? Yes, it is a sweet and truly funny film and although there are some heavy elements at play on the periphery, I was pleased with the happy ending.

No comments: