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EDITIONS
 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 11:52 GMT
About Schmidt
Jack Nicholson
Newsnight Review discussed Jack Nicholson as a dull, sexless ordinary guy in About Schmidt.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

CRAIG BROWN:
I thought it was marvellous. I was expecting a comedy, because of the reviews. There are very funny moments, but it is incredibly sad and it ends sadly, whereas previous Jack Nicholson films, like As Good As It Gets end up mawkish. It has an ending you don't see in films that deal with old age, which are very well done. There is humour which is very funny. There is not a divide between laughing and crying, they are very well elided, except there is one farcical bit with a water bed which goes over the top. But his daughter in-laws are a completely grotesque, but very subtlety grotesque. You can forgive each of them, but as a combination they are very awful. It is subtle and compactly, economically directed and scripted.

TIM LOTT:
It is an extraordinary performance by Jack Nicholson, unrecognisable as his former self. It is as great a transformation as Ben Kingsley playing Ghandi, then playing in Sexy Beast. He carries it off brilliantly. It is a wonderful film. It is a comedy about loneliness, which could develop in a genre. I remember seeing happiness as a comedy about loneliness, and I loved that film. It is incredibly moving. There are moments that move you to tears. There is a fantastic moment when he rubs on his wife's face cream, which was a great moment, and the metaphor of this great Winnebago that he lumbers into, and blunders around his home town to find the place of his birth. It is a road movie in that sense as well. It is a film about loss. Yet somehow it is a completely bleak film, there is no redemption in it. It is utterly bleak. Given that, you would think you would come out depressed, but we don't, that is the miracle of the film, you come out with a smile on your face, and it is not justified. You should come out wanting to slit your wrist.

LISA JARDINE:
I loved it and I could kick myself for loving it. I laughed it all the way through. I have a brother- in-law in America, a redneck Californian, who is so like Jack Nicholson, and believe me he is not funny. I went into the movie and thought, I am not going to find it funny. The retirement scene is beautifully done. As it moved into the pastiches like his unkind, wonderful, American Beauty-style voiceover about how ugly his wife has become and why he is sleeping next to this old lady, I wanted to resent it, but you can't, it is so brilliant. The landscape is shot so it is a road movie, and that's why we love it. It is the Paris, Texas quality to it, Europeans loving a movie which goes from Omaha to Denver and going on the road. There were incredible vistas of space and shots held for a long time, considering it is supposed to be comedy.

BROWN:
It is not entirely bleak. Everyone is surviving on hope. It might be ill- conceived hope.

LAWSON:
It is made clear the hope is useless though..

BROWN:
Hope exists, and then you die!

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24 Jan 03 | Entertainment
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