1932. The tyrannical and despotic government of President Machado has headed Cuba for seven years. The latest measure of that tyranny is the outlawing of public gatherings of more than four... See full summary »
Against a background of war breaking out in Europe and the Mexican fiesta Day of Death, we are taken through one day in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, a British consul living in alcoholic disrepair and obscurity in a small southern Mexican town in 1939. The Consul's self-destructive behaviour, perhaps a metaphor for a menaced civilization, is a source of perplexity and sadness to his nomadic, idealistic half-brother, Hugh, and his ex-wife, Yvonne, who has returned with hopes of healing Geoffrey and their broken marriage. Written by
Eric Wees <email@example.com>
This is one of those movies that is always in the discount pile, "Any Rental--99cents'. You find it at garage sales and the like, although I never know why. Perhaps it's the atrocious artwork. Seems a lot of video store patrons base their entire rental decisions on the cover art-I've never heard so many uninformed and ludicrous remarks as have been made in the `User Comments' column for the movie `What Happened Was'-a very smart adult drama. Seems the provocative pose of star Karen Sillas on the cover suggested some sort of couples-therapy Skinamax special. Ooh the disappointment of it all.
Anyway, Under the Volcano is also a very smart adult drama. To begin with, Albert Finney's Oscar nominated performance (he did garner an LA Film Critics award), is superb (1985 was the year Amadeus swept). As the terminally alcoholic Geoffrey Fermin, Finney plays quite a different sort of beast than those played famously by Ray Milland (Lost Weekend), Jack Lemmon (Days of Wine and Roses), and Nick Cage (Leaving Las Vegas).
Fermin is adrift in his alcoholism-an educated man, an English Consul, no less, whose losing battle with booze has cost him his job (Consul to Mexico), and his wife. He is at that stage when the bottle is his last and only compadre as it may. He has succumbed to it, long before this drama begins. His resignation is complete, any pretense of normalcy is only a whisper. He is waiting for it to take his life.
Under John Huston's direction, Under the Volcano is basically a one-man show. In support, as Fermin's wife Yvonne, Jacqueline Bisset gives for me the strongest performance of her career.
Highly recommend, but don't expect to come away with sunshine on your shoulders.
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