Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins give a tour-de-force performance in the STARZ original movie The Dresser. A British play about life in the theater. Richard Eyre adopted the idea for television based on the work of Ron Harwood. It recently aired Monday 30, 2016.
Set in London during WWII the story is about loyalty and friendship. McKellen is a dedicated personal assistant to the deteriorating veteran of theater played by Hopkins. With a bubble gum budget and a building falling down around them, McKellen is charged with getting Hopkins though a very difficult performance of King Lear. The two actors are wonderful to watch. McKellen (Norman) is a brilliant observation in subordination and repressed emotions. Sir (Hopkins) is beautiful as his lucidity slowly slips away in a river of memories lost.
In my opinion the film is more of a study between two characters rather than a cast trying to stay on in one of histories darkest times. Where Eyre’s under utilizes the play is his lack of historical setting. We can hear booms going off outside but we are in another world inside the theater. Maybe that was his intention but I would have liked to see more use of the setting along with the cast of actors. I also have a complaint about the sound. Some characters were loud and understandable. Many times Norman was not. I realize that is part of his persona but he has so many gems for lines its sad to miss even one of them.
I am a BBC fan. A PBS fan and a Downton Abby junkie. If you are like me watch this film. It really works on TV. I am wondering maybe a mini series is coming???? It would be great to follow Norman and his rag-tag bunch around on their travels and their productions. Watch The Dresser.