The life and career of Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush) is chronicled here, from the height of the Goon Show’s popularity to his penultimate, Oscar-nominated role in Being There. Along the way, we see the collapse of his first marriage to Anne (Emily Watson), his second to Britt Ekland (Charlize Theron), and his fractious working relationships with such directors as Stanley Kubrick (Stanley Tucci) and Blake Edwards (John Lithgow).
There’s an interesting conceit at work here: th…t Sellers had no real personality of his own, or at least had very little awareness of his actual self. Thus, every so often, Rush plays Sellers playing Anne or Kubrick or Edwards, addressing the audience directly and analyzing himself at one remove. This can come across as either clever or arch, depending on one’s point of view, but I liked it. Sellers himself comes across as a deeply unhappy, deeply screwed up individual, but the portrayal is not, I don’t think, unsympathetic. In any event, Rush’s work is astonishing. Not only does he become Sellers, but his recreations of his best-known characters is dead perfect.
The audio (coming in both 5.1 and 2.0 versions) is very solid. It doesn’t try to dazzled with sound design, but some considerable attention is paid to providing an immersive experience. Some of the placement of the sound effects is excellent (passing traffic moving from one speaker to the other), but some is also a bit odd (the sounds of an airplane in the background unaccountable emerging from the rear speakers). By and large, a very solid piece of work, however.
There are some colour timing issues here, as flesh tones fluctuate very noticeable in a few scenes. The image tends to the soft and murky end of the spectrum, and there is some grain visible. It’s perfectly watchable, but not as good as the sound.
There are two excellent commentaries here, one by director Stephen Hopkins and Rush, the other by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Though they discuss the making of the film, they also have many things to say about Sellers himself, and the two tracks are hugely informative. There are also eight deleted scenes, and the usual making-of featurette. The menu is fully animated and scored.
This won’t be to everybody’s liking, but it is a compulsively watachable film, with a performance by Rush that more than earned its Golden Globe.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Making of Featurette