Review: Being There (1979)


Being There (1979)

Directed by: Hal Ashby | 130 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart, Richard Basehart, Ruth Attaway, David Clennon, Fran Brill, Denise DuBarry, Oteil Burbridge, Ravenell Keller III, Brian Corrigan, Alfredine P. Brown, Don Jacob

Years after his unparalleled performance as Inspector Clouseau in ‘The Pink Panther’ and especially its successor ‘A Shot in the Dark’, Peter Sellers – regarded as the greatest comedian of all time – earns his Oscar for his role as Chance in particular. beautiful ‘Being There’. It’s a rare feat, and one of the highest quality, as most comedians don’t master the dramatic side of acting enough to win awards; Sellers was the biggest for a reason.

Instead of unpacking, he plays the character from Jerzy Kosinksi’s novel with the utmost mastery. The reason this works is also due to Sellers, because down to the smallest gestures and facial expressions he is the gardener, even the way he blinks is different from the comedian in his everyday life.

Director Hal Ashby gives the English comedian plenty of space, and the scenes with Shirley MacLaine are especially successful. Of all the characters in the film, she hangs the most on the gardener’s lips when he elaborates in his small words about keeping the garden in good shape; the way many others – down to the president of America – react to that is also very comical.

The modern satire – with a nice ending – is at its best for its history when the end credits show the scenes where Sellers laughs. Two years later, the actor would die at the age of 54, and it’s a shame he never got to play more dramatic roles. His oeuvre, however, appeals to the imagination, with in addition to the ‘Pink Panther’ films also the Kubrick production ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and the James Bond spoof ‘Casino Royale’. Sellers leaves behind a lot of great work, with ‘Being There’ as the absolute highlight. It is a film that stays with you for a very long time.

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