Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Veteran Shakespearian actor Anthony O’Malley (Michael Caine) is starring in a disastrous Nazi version of Richard III in Dublin. The ageing and vain O’Malley is almost penniless and decides to score some quick cash by pulling off a swindle. Hearing that the shady Barreller (Michael Gambon) owes £50,000 to a London gangster he’s never met, O’Malley enlists young acting colleague Tom (Dylan Moran) to impersonate the debt collector. The loot is duly secured but complications set in and both O’Malley and Tom are forced to adopt an expanding series of disguises to cover their tracks.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
If you want to see disguises used to hilarious effect, please refer to the eight getups donned by Alec Guinness in the 1949 Ealing classic Kind Hearts and Coronets or any Pink Panther movie. For a fitfully amusing time you can settle for Michael Caine and Dylan Moran in this mish-mash of mistaken identity. 

Without much of a plot going for it, The Actors rests almost exclusively on the talents of Caine and a venerable cast of British and Irish thespians to prop up the hoary old game of “who’s got the loot”. They do it quite well and this one’s worth catching for the sight of Caine stumbling around as a Third Reich Richard III and Michael Gambon in very funny form as Barreller, a hopeless Irish criminal with the worst toupee since Burt Reynolds. Youngster Abigail Iversen is the other support cast standout as Tom’s savvy nine year-old niece Mary. This straight-talking schoolgirl delivers many of the funniest lines as she proves to be the only member of the O’Malley operation with any brains. Lena Heady is a fetching presence as Barreller’s stage-struck daughter Dolores, whose romance with Tom all-too-predictably sends the scam hurtling toward disaster. 

The big disappointment is Dylan Moran in the pivotal role of Tom. The stand up comedian and appealing star of television comedy series Black Books seems in awe of his illustrious co-stars and gives a nervous, fidgety performance that upends the comic flow rather too often. Moran shoulders most of the disguise work here but never seems comfortable with what he’s doing and our suspension of disbelief is stretched to breaking point – even within the confines of a farce like this. Anyone who remembers Caine in his unconvincing drag act as a nurse in Dressed To Kill (1981) can look forward to an even less effective appearance in frock and blonde wig here. 

Based on a story written ten years ago by Neil Jordan and much better directed than adapted by Conor McPherson, The Actors at least doesn’t have any pretensions, though it does have a dog-eared feel about it. It’s a chance for a bunch of classy actors to play silly and at least they have enough respect for the audience to make an effort and help the time pass amiably.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1


CAST: Michael Caine, Dylan Moran, Michael Gambon, Lenah Headey, Miranda Richardson, Michael McElhatton, Aisling O'Sullivan

PRODUCER: Neil Jordan, Redmond Morris, Stephen Woolley

DIRECTOR: Conor McPherson

SCRIPT: Conor McPherson (story Neil Jordan)


MUSIC: Michael Nyman


RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes



© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020