Top critical review
Booze and self-pity--a molotov cocktail
on 20 September 2017
Albert Finney gives a masterful performance in this otherwise rambling, disjointed narrative about an alcoholic British former consul. His iconic portrayal of a lost, confused, self-pitying, bitter man struggling to survive in Cuernavaca after his wife leaves him is one for the ages; a model for actors playing a drunk on the edge of physical and mental oblivion. It's inferred that his wife and his stepbrother had an affair, a contributing factor to his bitterness and alcoholism. A small ray of hope that he and his wife can rekindle their love quickly fizzles as bitterness overcomes what small lucidity remains in his drink addled brain. He knows he's a bitter, frightened, raging alcoholic destined to be denied any chance of turning his life around. His co-dependent step brother and wife can do very little to help such a man on an unstoppable path to self-destruction. We know that he's too far gone to redeem himself, and that a sad ending is a foregone conclusion. I suppose the moral or ultimate meaning of the story is that drowning one's sorrow and anger in booze (or drugs for that matter) only creates a path of self-destruction, a deep hole from which only the mentally hardiest can escape intact.