Stephanie, a famous violin player married to a composer becomes ill from multiple sclerosis. Her whole life goes to pieces : her career ends abruptly and her husband betrays her with ...
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Stephanie, a famous violin player married to a composer becomes ill from multiple sclerosis. Her whole life goes to pieces : her career ends abruptly and her husband betrays her with another woman and her favourite pupil decides to leave for a tour in the USA. Stephanie tries to take her life... Written by
Salvatore Santangelo <email@example.com>
You know I have nothing but contempt for you. Sitting there year after year listening to miserable people like me tell you how the world does destroy them. Have you ever once felt anything like the pain they feel? All the despair...all the fear? You make your living from their suffering and you don't understand a shred of it. Anyone of us is more qualified to speak than you because we have been there. We are still there.
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This is proof enough that Julie Andrews can act; again, she rises above this uneven work ...
"I'm in this chair because I've got multiple sclerosis," thunders Julie
Andrews (as Stephanie) to her shrink - rather a caricature - Max von
Sydow. There is anger, there is bitterness, there is a resignation,
there is a sense of loss, a sense of frustration and an understated
(and unstated) acknowledgement that we all die alone...
In one line, Ms Andrews displays a depth to her dramatic performance
not yet seen by viewers. I remember some rather disparaging comments
being made about this casting (as well as for 84 Charing Cross Road,
released in the same time frame as Duet for One). Most of these were
aimed at the casting of Julie Andrews in a pivotal dramatic role.
Understandable, perhaps, as Julie Andrews *is* better known as a
musical star (though cannot make any more musical films)and is seen as
either Mary Poppins or Maria von Trapp. In reality, Ms Andrews has made
more non-musical films than musical films.
Duet for One, though, was a departure from other roles: this film is
kept alive only by the performance of Julie Andrews -- the other
characters are merely 'supporting' characters. Julie Andrews does what
she has done in previous musical films: she takes centre stage.
Her performance is absolutely brilliant -- she received two Golden
Globe nominations as Lead Actress in one year (1986): For drama, 'Duet
for One'; for comedy/musical, 'That's Life.'
I saw both in London in 1987. Julie Andrews, it seemed by overwhelming
critical responses, had 'come of age'. Her performances were measured,
realistic and gritty: and even with the subject matter of Duet for One,
never diminishes into audience-pleasing wallowing sympathy.
I do think that Julie Andrews has been a much-cheated actress:
audiences do not seem to *want* her to be more than a musical star. She
has great comic timing (such a pity that there never was a vehicle to
exploit this talent). In 'Duet for One', she convinces that she can
act: she is in control, but a weighty script, uneven directing and
blurred focus helped this movie to sink.
And again, an excellent performance is not seen by a large number of
people. There is gritty, gutsy work and Julie Andrews *should* have
been nominated for an Academy Award (rather than a strange nomination
to Jane Fonda for 'The Morning After'.
This film is not good ('Hilary and Jacky' is much better) but the lead
performance is outstanding. If you get a chance, see it. For Julie
Andrews' work and some fine classical music, outstandingly weaved into
the soundtrack in background and foreground, it's stunning.
And there are interesting supporting cast vignettes too, notably those
of Liam Neeson and Cathryn Harrison.
A great pity that this film has diluted its original play so much, but
it's still worth seeing.
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