Barrymore | Chicago Reader

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83 minutes · 2012

Biography, Drama
Christopher Plummer reprises his Tony Award-winning role as John Barrymore, in a screen adaptation of the one-man show that played on Broadway in 1997. The fictional story takes place at New York's Majestic Theatre in 1942, as the washed-up, alcoholic actor prepares scenes from Richard III for a backers' audition and reminisces about his rise and fall in the business. Plummer is a great roaring pleasure in the role, reciting Shakespeare and an assortment of dirty limericks with comparable zeal, though the play, remounted at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto in January 2011, is so steeped in stage lore that it resists any attempts to film it. Director Erik Canuel makes a few gestures toward the cinematic—during one reverie Barrymore stares into a mirror and sees himself costumed as his own cruel father, Maurice—but these innovations tend to puncture the illusion of a performance without adding much of their own.

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