Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

THAT'S LIFE! *** (1986)

The nth chapter in Blake Edwards' continuing satire on Southern California and to a large extent of himself as part of an affluent, mindless community.
On the weekend of Jack Lemmon's sixtieth birthday, the man falls apart. He is a hypochondriac, feels he has failed in his personal life and above all as a professional, even though he is a very successful architect --but "no Frank Lloyd Wright." Lemmon does not question his talent, but lays the blame on the compromises he has to make daily in order to keep his tasteless, "nyekulturnyi" clients.

With total egotism, Lemmon unloads all his problems on his wife Julie Andrews, a singer (and director Edwards'spouse in real life). She puts up with this with admirable self-control, concealing the fact that she just had a biopsy for a spot in her throat and cannot get the results for a couple of days. Edwards may well have been inspired by Agnes Varda's excellent second feature, the "real-time" "Cleo From 5 To 7," (France, 1962) that put Varda on the map. It was about a woman who was waiting for the outcome of her medical tests.

While agonizing in secret, Andrews tries to stabilize her man as well as their visiting brood. Except for her, most of friends and family are self-centered, superficial people. The focus, however, remains on the Andrews-Lemmon twosome. Both are excellent. Andrews conveys her turmoil with nuances that only the audience (in on her predicament) understands. And it is hard to imagine someone other than Lemmon, with his watery eyes and jerky movements, delivering self-pity with such conviction.

The supporting cast includes Robert Loggia, Sally Kellerman and several members of the real Lemmon and Blake-Andrews families. All are good.

There's a light, almost slapsticky side to this movie, but beyond the satire and the funny bits, it is the dark aspect that predominates. The latter most probably affects only those viewers who are over a certain age, have intimations of mortality and do balance sheets of their life. This may have been the main reason why the film, in spite of some positive reviews, played theatrically for a limited time only. (Edwin Jahiel)

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel