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The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers 2004


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Feature adaptation of Roger Lewis' book about the actor best remembered for playing Inspector Clousseau in the Pink Panther movies, offering a glimpse into the many faces of Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush) to reveal how the comic genius teetered on the edge of insanity. The film traces the British actor's turbulent rise from the popular BBC radio presenter on 'The Goon Show' to one of the world's best-loved comic actors. As his career progresses, Sellers' private torment about his failure to reconcile his relations with women, celebrity and his many selves is divulged, as is his desperately low self-esteem despite critical acclaim and professional success. A searching look behind the mask of a comedy icon, through his rapid rise to fame, through his four marriages and several affairs.

John Lithgow, Geoffrey Rush
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Product Details

  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 2 minutes
Starring John Lithgow, Geoffrey Rush, Stephen Fry, Charlize Theron, Emily Mortimer, Stanley Tucci
Director Stephen Hopkins
Genres Drama
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages English

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon on 6 Mar. 2005
Format: DVD
Geoffrey Rush will no doubt win every award available to him in this bravura performance for this BBC/HBO production. Based on the rather tabloid-sleaze biography by Roger Lewis, it presents a portrait of a demented, self-obsessed man who hurts everyone he comes in contact with. Taking into consideration the final facts stated in the film (he left his children $ 2,000.00 apiece) there is probably more truth than one would care to believe in this account of Peter Sellers, which starts with his appearances on The Goon Show, shows his twisted relationship with his mother, the women he abused in various ways, his difficult behavior on the movie sets, and ends during the time of "Being There", the award-winning 1979 film about a gardener who becomes a politician.
Geoffrey Rush is phenomenal as Sellers; and I especially like the scenes when he becomes his mother, as well as Blake Edwards. Rush is made to look somewhat like Sellers, but it is the body language and the verbal inflection that makes this portrayal so convincing.
Others in the cast are also excellent: Miriam Margoyles as his mother, Emily Watson as wife # 1, Charlize Theron as Britt Ekland, Stanley Tucci as Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Fry amusing as celebrity psychic Maurice Woodruff, and the very underrated John Lithgow once again terrific as Blake Edwards. Sonia Aquino is impressive in the small part of Sophia Loren.
The direction by Stephen Hopkins is stylish and well-paced, and the score by Richard Hartley is peppered with Tom Jones singing "It's Not Unusual", and other songs that fit into the timeline from The Animals, The Kinks, and more.
A way above average Cable TV production, it's a riveting look at a great talent gone wrong, and a "must see" for Rush's performance alone. Total running time is 122 minutes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andy Millward VINE VOICE on 15 Jun. 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Like its subject, this film is complex, stylised and vaguely unsettling. The title is slightly misleading, since you get a subset of Sellers' life and only a scrolling blurb about his death before the final credits - edited highlights, which is appropriate. What you do get is a highly fantacised interpretation of Sellers. He comes over as a misanthropic, petulant (with wives, children, anyone who got in his way), savage, selfish womaniser with a genius for mimicry but totally lacking a soul - a man perpetually hiding behind the mask of one improvised character or another. It didn't much seem to matter which. Indeed, he jokes in the film that he once had a personality but had it surgically removed. Enough to keep a small army of psychoanalysts busy for years!
This interpretation, which draws heavily on Roger Lewis's controversial biography, seems somewhat too neat and to draw selectively on the Sellers oeuvre but makes for spectacular cinema. The key device to illustrate the fragmented Sellers ego is to have his alter ego, Geoffrey Rush, play sequences as other characters, not least Sellers' parents, Blake Edwards and Stanley Kubrick. Not totally convincing, to put it mildly; nor are other fantasy sequences, included presumably to illustrate the zany and spontaneous Sellers approach to life.
That any of this anarchy hangs together at all is a measure of two factors: a screenplay structured as a fairly linear chronological biography, and a magnificent cast in which several fine British character actors come out especially well - Miriam Margolyes, Emily Watson, Stephen Fry and Peter Vaughan add powerful support throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr Baz #1 REVIEWER#1 HALL OF FAME on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: DVD
I was cautious about this film, mostly because I know Sellers is a hard act to pull off convincingly.
Fortunately Geoffrey Rush has done his homework, and not only looks like the man but manages to act like him, he's as close as you'll likely get to the real man via an actor playing him.

Sellers was well known as a complicated character, behind the comic genius was a troubled man who had difficulty with family, marriage and his children. His relationship with his parents also is shown in quite some detail (or in the case of his father a distant/vacant relationship)

The film starts off with Sellers trying to break into TV, but seemingly having difficulty doing so. However his mother Peg (Miriam Margolyes) spurs him on, clearly showing some control over the man... a reflection on his childhood no doubt. Sellers persistence pays off and he starts stage work moving into film production later on.

Supporting cast is good with the ever reliable Emily Watson as Anne Sellers, later we have Charlize Theron playing Britt Ekland. Sonia Aquino also does justice to her Sophia Loren portrayal.

Sellers life is explored, and some, but not all of his film work covered. This concentrates on the man, but at times you will feel the talent is tainted with the almost self destructive behaviour that he follows, affairs, health problems, his detached and indifferent relationship with his children, and a man who appears as a shell waiting to jump into his next film character. Even Sellers himself was well quoted as saying, "If you ask me to play myself, I will not know what to do. I do not know who or what I am"

The film is well directed, and acted and provides a unique look at his life.
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