The Dresser (Richard Eyre, 2015) telemovie 31 Oct; wr. Richard Eyre, from Ronald Harwood's play; Anthony Hopkins, Ian McKellen, Emily Watson, Sarah Lancashire, Edward Fox, Vanessa Kirby, Tom Brooke
In the closing months of World War 2 aging actor Sir (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Her Ladyship (Emily Watson) bring Shakespeare to the provinces with a company depleted by conscription. Sir is plainly unwell, discharging himself from the hospital, and Her Ladyship believes he should cancel his upcoming performance of King Lear. However, Norman (Sir Ian McKellen), his camp dresser, disagrees, and is determined that the show will go on, cajoling the confused Sir into giving a performance, one which will be his swan song. A parallel is drawn between King Lear and his fool, as Norman serves his master.
Ian McKellen (as Norman, the dresser) is remarkably restrained, while at the same time showing a remarkable range of acting ability. Hopkins is (it can go without saying) great, but his character lacks an awareness of his condition (as did Finney's). I blame the playwright.
See also: The Dresser (1983). Tom Brooke in this film plays the part that Edward Fox played in the earlier one.
Garry Gillard | New: 12 May, 2021 | Now: 14 July, 2021