PETER'S FRIENDS
DIRECTOR:                     KENNETH BRANAGH
COUNTRY:                     ENGLAND 1992
CINEMATOGRAPHY:   ROGER LAUSER
MUSIC:                           Eighties material
CAST:                             Kenneth Branagh (Andrew), Stephen Fry (Peter), Alphonsia Emmanuel (Sarah), Hugh Laurie (Roger), Phyllida Law (Vera), Alex Lowe (Paul), Rita Rudner (Carol), Emma Thompson (Maggie)
SUPER FEATURES:       Acting, of course. Graduate Variety.


( Side note.. interesting that I would catch this the same evening that I saw Glengarry Glen Ross .... pure theatre. )

If Glengarry Glen Ross was American acting styles at its very best, then Peter's Friends is the English version of the same thing. The finest ensemble style acting that you will find, is in both of these productions. American filmdom is afraid of these PLAY things. The English, of course, have thrived on it for a long time.

And Peter's Friends, despite its down ending ( not quite ), is a play that does not need a movie. But Kenneth Branagh manages to make it
enjoyable, and not an evening of heavy theatre, until the last possible moment, which is nice, and makes for a fun evening. One has no clue as to what is going on, or what will happen. So much the better.

Peter's Friends, centers around a group of buddies that used to spend their college days doing little reviews for parties, with some burlesque
thrown in. Several years later, all the members have gone their own way. Peter has decided that he will have a party to honor all of his friends, the last chance that he might have to do so, for he is also losing the properties he lives in.

And they arrive. The actor and his wife actress, frustrated because he is the star and she has to stick around with him until she gets her own break. The spinster, who still picks up a bum here and there, and is trying to find something of a spark in a relationship, to excuse her sexual escapades. The successful businessman in the advertising business, who is good, but has a wife that is just about gone haywire about her child. And Maggie, who seems intended on coming over to the party to hook Peter into marriage.

And their interplay gets everyone in trouble with everyone, and insulting everyone else in the process, but never losing the sense of friendship which brought them together in the first place. Like many years ago, they still tease each other about their sexual anything, and their choice of mates, compared to their choice of friends ( never in question, now is it.? ).

And the disappointments set in everywhere. Peter is not responding to Maggie's advances, and she is hurt by it. Sarah is still trying to bed down the actor ( specially now ), and to get rid of the cold fish American wife, who spells out clearly she is in it just to get her own chance at acting. And Paul, whose marriage may have meant something at one time, but has been a terrible disaster since the death of one of the twin sons. His wife has turned into a neurotic mess since.

All's well that ends well, is the norm here, and we won't disappoint anyone with a spoiler's alert. Needless to say that this film is excellent, and the acting is above and beyond the call of any one's duty, and that it is a very enjoyable evening, the likes of which many of us would love to have once in a while ( well, we can forget the news.! ), just to appreciate old friends, who really were better friends than we give them credit for, much later.

The best one in this ensemble is Stephen Fry as Peter. The smooth one is Emma Thompson. The most boring one is Kenneth Branagh. But
the film is excellent, and very enjoyable, and allows a theatrical play to live, without having to resort to filmdom's very famous close ups. Theatre still lives, even if through the lens on a camera.

4 GIBLOONS

 

   

      

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