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

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

Advertisement
The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite...

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

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.