Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer portrays legendary Shakespearean actor John Barrymore in this adaptation of the acclaimed stage play by William Luce. Set in 1942, the final year of Barrymore's life, the film takes place on the stage of a Broadway theatre where the actor is struggling to recreate his performance in the title role of Shakepeare's Richard III.... More

No longer a leading box office star, Barrymore reckons with the ravages of his life of excess. He has rented the theatre to rehearse for a backer's audition, to raise money and revive his 1920 Broadway triumph. It leads him to look back on the highs and lows of his stunning career and remarkable life.Hide

Flicks Review

If you only know him as Captain Von Trapp or General Chang then prepare to have your eyes opened to the tour de force that is Christopher Plummer. The veteran actor gives a magnetic performance in this virtual one-man Tony Award-winning production as he brings celebrated broadway actor, screen star and infamous alcoholic John Barrymore (Drew’s grandad) back to life.... More

As well as providing audiences with an opportunity to see the more nuanced aspects of Plummer’s performance than from a traditional theatre seat, director Canuel makes great use of cinematic techniques (cutaways, projected film images) to add value to what is already a compelling slice of stagecraft. Armed with a drinks trolley, Plummer takes a number of detours as Barrymore (a self-described "living advert for all the world’s liquor companies") attempts a comeback crack at Richard "the turd", discussing early life with siblings Ethel and Lionel, his four "bus accident" marriages and the perils of growing old.

Memorable dialogue comes at every turn as Barrymore mangles Shakespearian solioquys and shares his favourite lusty limericks. The necessary theatricality may not be every moviegoer’s cup of tea, but as an acting masterclass it’s educational and entertaining.Hide

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The Press Reviews

68% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • The endless repetitions of Luce's monologue grow quickly tiresome and, for all his half-baked efforts at expanding the context of his film, Canuel fails to deliver us from the inevitable hermeticism of the material. Full Review

  • Despite some stylistic missteps, showcase for Plummer's Tony-winning performance will captivate theater fans. Full Review

  • God, I love Plummer's performance -- the twiddling fingers, the tipsy sway of the head, the reverberating roar. Full Review

  • The material itself has a formulaic solo-bioplay rhythm neither performer nor director can fully elude. Full Review