BWW Movie Reviews: BARRYMORE - A Great Actor Embodies a Great Actor
While self- indulgent, the character of Barrymore is ultimately both honest with himself and humble. As he accepts his limitations we find the triumph of Spirit that preserves his legacy of greatness.
Plummer is totally embodied in this role with great nuance. His depth of understanding of the character's intelligence, bawdiness and ironic humor translates as complete and whole. In the most vulnerable moments of the film, he enrages us and breaks our hearts in one fell swoop.
Plummer as Barrymore plays at least ten characters including his famous siblings. These moments are surprising and add a much appreciated levity.
As a solo coach and director, I loved the unique device of putting a stage manager offstage who is being paid to help Barrymore both with his lines and keeping him on task. This character is there to chide him, urge him forward and believe in him. And this character serves the role of a Greek Chorus.
Another interesting device is the fact that he is in rehearsal for Richard the Third. Richard was considered his greatest role, thirty years previous. In a way, his signature role in this play within a play comes back to both taunt him and elude him. In many ways Richard's deformities mirror his own shortcomings. We see and he sees his deformities, which are not so much physical as psychological.
Barrymore's period of greatness is over. His understanding that it was over was faced with a lot of personal integrity. That is what moved me the most. And in that revelation, the character opens to a new form of greatness, built not on the ability to practice his craft, but to enter his oneness with all of humanity.
Great direction, gorgeous staging and lighting all make this an incredible experience. But the star of the show is Barrymore himself. I can only imagine his joy at the immortality he is now experiencing.