Lenny | Chicago Reader

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Dustin Hoffman is superb as Lenny Bruce, but he gives an actor's performance where a less declamatory, more comedic delivery would have worked better. Bob Fosse distrusts show business so much that he wants to touch all the bases of “reality” and ends up revealing almost nothing about his subject. To treat the Bruce persona as the stuff out of which standard film biographies are made (young man on the way up is destroyed by evil companions and noncomprehending associates and dies of a broken heart when success turns out to be an empty dream and no one understands him, blah, blah, blah . . . ) is to do the contemporary audience a disservice. The black-and-white, neo-documentary approach is a sham; but Valerie Perrine as Lenny's wife is the real thing (1974).
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