Being There

"Extraordinary"

Being There Review


If we're to believe 2004's The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, the Briton who seemingly defined the term "comic actor" was an angry shell of a man, a vacant vessel who stumbled his way through life. Given that, could there be a more brilliant or appropriate final hurrah for Sellers than Being There?

In his final big role before his death, Sellers brings to life a man called Chance, a feeble-minded and quiet middle-aged gardener in a Washington, D.C. mansion he's never left. Chance's life - which consists of tending to the small garden, taking meals prepared by another servant, and watching and mimicking television - is shattered when the patron of the manse passes away and the house is sold, forcing Chance out into the harsh world he's never experienced.

Via a fortunate accident, Chance finds himself welcomed into the household of another dying tycoon (Melvyn Douglas), this one with a lovely, younger wife (Shirley Maclaine) and some serious political juice. But Chance is no day laborer here; the confused inhabitants of the estate misinterpret the simple horticultural platitudes of the well-dressed stranger as economic wisdom, and the man who comes to be known as "Chauncey Gardiner," through no determination of his own, falls upward to a position of great fame and power he doesn't understand or care about in the least. And since he's lived off the grid for his entire life, the CIA, FBI, the Washington Post, and even the President of the United States find him inscrutable, fascinating, and threatening.

While Sellers made his cinematic fame falling down staircases and engaging in zany mix-'em-ups, this massive departure is the finest performance of his career, eclipsing even his many faces in Dr. Strangelove. In Being There, Sellers creates a character that's empty, vapid, and with nothing to say, but exuding profundity, calculation, and utter Zen. It earned him his second and final Academy Award nomination for acting.

Beyond Sellers' and his supporters' excellent performances, the screenplay, the settings, and the direction are all nearly flawless. Being There does, however, require a certain suspension of belief. A "love scene" that involves MacLaine masturbating on the floor and Sellers attempting a headstand on the bed especially tests the premise of the satire, but its excruciating hilarity trumps any hairs that might be split.

Although more than 25 years old, Being There is a vital statement on our TV reality, on how we develop our heroes, and on how power perpetuates itself. And it's funny as hell.



Being There

Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 19th December 1979

Box Office Worldwide: $30.2M

Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Production compaines: United Artists, Lorimar Film Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Chance, as Eve Rand, as Benjamin Rand, as President 'Bobby', as Dr. Robert Allenby, as Vladimir Skrapinov, Ruth Attaway as Louise, as Thomas Franklin (as Dave Clennon), Fran Brill as Sally Hayes, Denise DuBarry as Johanna Franklin, Alice Hirson as First Lady, as Gary Burns, John Harkins as Sidney Courtney, James Noble as Kaufman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.