Sunday, August 22, 2010
I first saw Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC TV show "Sherlock" and decided to look up what else he'd done. In this made-for-TV movie, he does an *excellent* job playing Stephen Hawking in the early days of his diagnosis. The movie's writer, Peter Moffat, also wrote the fairly-entertaining Einstein and Eddington, but the writing is sharper and more interesting in this older one. Well worth checking out for fans of biographies, science stories, or Benedict Cumberbatch. 4 stars.
As far as Neil Simon comedies go, this one feels unusually...not-comedic. It's a much more dramatic story for Simon. And while it has heart (as all his plays do) something falls a bit short. Maybe I was just expecting too much, since Simon is one of my all-time favorite writers. It was enjoyable, but nothing special. 3 stars.
Judi Dench is what makes this movie. She takes on a somewhat terrifying role as a woman manipulating her "friendships" to get what she wants out of them. The dialogue is well-written, the story compelling, and the rest of the actors (Bill Nighy in particular) do a great job. Overall, a very solid movie. 4 stars.
This is clearly a very, very good play. However, not so good a movie adaptation. The editing is awkward, making it seem stilted and choppy, rather than the flowing nature of a theatrical production. The acting is all very good, however. If I ever got an opportunity to see the play, I would certainly take it. But I wouldn't go out of my way to see the movie again. 3.5 stars.