WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY: DVD
Frank (Richard Harris) is a retired Irish seaman; Walter (Robert Duvall) is a retired Cuban barber. They are both old and lonely and trapped in the emptiness of their own lives, but begin a conversation while sitting on separate park benches and become friends. Frank is cantankerous and pigheaded, while Walter is quiet and set in his ways, which leads to misunderstandings and arguments.
Review by Louise Keller:
This is a film of two superlative performances from Richard Harris and Robert Duvall, who play an odd couple drawn together by their common loneliness as they become friends in the winter of their lives. Harris excels as Frank, a retired Irish sea captain, whose rough tongue has a prickly temper to match. Duvall almost disappears into his retired Cuban barber Walter, who takes comfort in his daily rituals of puzzles, bacon sandwiches and his friendship with the diner's sweet natured waitress Elaine (Sandra Bullock). Steve Conrad's script allows us to get to know both men and in doing so, we become fond of them.
Frank's bravado is the armour defending his sadness, which his perceptive landlady Helen (Shirley MacLaine) senses. Perhaps the film's most touching moment comes when they share an understanding late at night after some Irish whiskey. There he finally finds an audience to tell his story how as a young sea captain in the Caribbean in 1938 he wrestled the great Ernest Hemingway. Frank and Helen's relationship is a fiery one: 'You ought to get yourself a phone,' she tells him, to which he retorts: 'You ought to get yourself a husband.' Frank also has a bristly relationship with Piper Laurie's Georgia, who frequents the local cinema. But the main push/pull relationship is between Frank and Walter, whose differences might irritate, but also brings comfort. I like the scene when Walter insists on giving Frank a haircut. 'A good haircut makes a man look respectable; I could make you look like a gentleman,' he says.
They bicycle together, skinnydip, go to the movies and watch the July 4 fireworks while using nature's bathroom. Confidences are shared - about women, wives, lovers and loneliness. There's a major falling out and a war of hateful words that are later regretted. Director Randa Haines treats the characters and subject matter with great affection and subtlety. There are a few tears along the way, but the film's spirit remains strong with the help of life affirming South American music as the night is danced away.
Published July 24, 2008
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WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY: DVD (M)
CAST: Robert Duvall, Richard Harris, Shirley MacLaine, Sandra Bullock, Micole Mercurio, Marty Belafsky, Harold Bergman, Piper Laurie
PRODUCER: Todd Black, Joe Wizan
DIRECTOR: Randa Haines
SCRIPT: Steve Conrad
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lajos Koltai
EDITOR: Paul Hirsch
MUSIC: Michael Convertino
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Waldemar Kalinowski
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: June 4, 2008