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The Dead Movie Review

huston film awards experience

Nothing would have kept me away from John Huston's swan song, The Dead, but I suspect that the overall sentimental response to the film is based more on a lifelong admiration for Huston's work than to the film itself. I have a hunch that some audience members find all these Irish bores quaint or precious, but I did NOT. James Joyce's 1914 story is a pleasure to read for the loveliness of its language, but The Dead was harder for me to sit through in a theatre. I would cheerfully pay to avoid the dull family get-together shown on film, or to listen to an elderly woman sing off-key, and she does over and over again. Maybe I would have to be 81 years old to find the experience, as Huston did, “funny and dear and terribly sad,” or to find the film itself “a soul-shaking experience,” but I tend to doubt it. Huston includes one beautiful exterior shot at night that evokes the frailty of time in a way that the rest of the film does not.

1987 (PG) 82m/C GB Anjelica Huston, Donal McCann, Marie Kean, Donal Donnelly, Dan O'Herlihy, Helen Carroll, Frank Patterson; D: John Huston; W: Tony Huston; C: Fred Murphy; M: Alex North. Independent Spirit Awards ‘88: Best Director (Huston), Best Supporting Actress (Huston); National Society of Film Critics Awards ‘87: Best Film; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘87: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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