Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Save up to 70%
Empire
Film Studies 101
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Geoffrey Rush
Charlize Theron
John Lithgow
Stanley Tucci
Emily Watson
Miriam Margolyes
Stephen Fry
Nigel Havers.
Directors
Stephen Hopkins.
Screenwriters
Roger Lewis
Christopher Markus
Stephen McFeely.
Running Time
127 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Avengers: Age Of Ultron
4 Star Empire Rating
Anti-Social
1 Star Empire Rating
Argerich
3 Star Empire Rating
We Are Monster
3 Star Empire Rating
Unfriended
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
Sweet Smell of Success
5 Star Empire Rating

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Who the hell was Peter Sellers? This biopic has a guess.


submit to reddit


Plot
Picking up from the celebrated Brit comic actor's spotlight-snatching on The Goon Show, this biopic takes us through Sellers' (Rush) cinematic triumphs in the likes of Dr. Strangelove and The Pink Panther, his excesses, family troubles, twilight plunge into 'C' list and, finally, his demise by heart attack at the age of 55.


Review
A single question burns throughout this biopic of the man best-loved as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau: who the hell was Peter Sellers? It's one, though, that remains unanswered come the fatal conclusion, primarily because it's unsure that even Peter Sellers knew who Peter Sellers was. Thankfully, though, Stephen Hopkins avoids subjecting us to any mask-stripping psychological detective work (he'd only end up pratfalling like Clouseau if he did); he's more concerned with exploring the question itself and how it affected those close to Sellers.

In so doing, we're treated to an engaging and consistently well-performed whistle-stop tour of Sellers' career - although, like most biopics, its episodic selectiveness often proves frustrating. For example, there's little which reveals the man's vaudeville childhood, nothing about his experiences during World War II, and we only get to meet two of his four wives (Emily Watson as knowing first spouse Anne, Charlize Theron as Swedish trophy Britt Ekland). Perhaps the script would have done better to deal with a smaller timeframe in more detail, focusing, say, on Sellers' quest to make Being There.

Even so, Hopkins - an unlikely helmer for the project given his CV (Predator 2? Lost In Space?) - can claim success, mainly due to his casting of Geoffrey Rush in the title role. Despite the fact that, at 53, Rush is pretty much as old as Sellers ever got, he's utterly convincing, even while playing the actor during his younger years. The spoiled-brat tantrums, the tender fumblings and the marvellous flashes of genius are all captured by Rush like perfectly framed snapshots. His depiction of Clouseau's conception and unleashing on a bewildered air hostess is one of the highpoints; his tense interplay with Stanley Tucci's Kubrick is another.

For his part, Hopkins keeps the visuals snappy, whipping up a smoky, CG-assisted post-Blitz London, and cutting loose with his cosmic interpretation of Sellers' near-death experience. Yet he doesn't lose any emotional impact. Come the end, we may not know Sellers much better, but the fact that everyone he loves is reduced to an echoing voice on the phone leaves you with a sympathetic pang for a very flawed man.


Verdict
Rush deserves deafening applause for his portrayal of Sellers. But don't expect much deep insight into the psyche of the enigmatic entertainer.


Reviewed by

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Empire Star Rating

Geoffrey Rush is incredible. And the movie is kind of deep.

I love this movie. Specially the performance of Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers, remembered for playing inspector Closeau in The Pink Panther. A moving, funny and deep film. Highly recommended. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 21:00, 13 April 2008 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The 15 Most Controversial Alternate Endings
How some of your favourite films could have finished...

80 Of The Best Movie Star Adverts
From Sly Stallone selling bread to Hugh Jackman dancing for Ice Tea

Showrunner Matthew Weiner Reveals 7 Mad Men Secrets
The truth about The Beatles and that lawnmower

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Breakdown
Everything you need to know about the second teaser

Podcast #157: Alan Rickman
From A Little Chaos to Die Hard and back again

From Hell! 22 Stalker Psychodramas
From fatal attractions to single white females

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon On The Town That Dreaded Sundown
The American Horror Story director on his cult slasher remake

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Subscribe now and save up to 70%

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe now and save up to 70%
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)