View Full Version : About Schmidt

03-25-2003, 01:09 AM
Alexander Payne’s follow-up to his raucous, furious “Election” couldn’t be more different. It moves at a deliberate speed, placidly shot (James Glennon’s camera barely moves) and will surely test some audiences. There’s a pervasive melancholy in Payne’s narrative (written with Jim Taylor and based on Louis Begley’s novel, unread by this reviewer) of a recently retired actuary (Jack Nicholson) who finds himself newly widowed and begins to question his life and place in eternity; this prompts him to travel throughout the Midwest, visiting places from his past en route to his daughter’s wedding in Denver. Though it’s good to see Nicholson finally playing a character his age, his performance also illustrates the film’s thorniest problem: deliberately underplaying the role of a simple man whose greatest fear is that of being forgotten long after he and anyone who has known him are gone, you can’t help but feel it’s Nicholson acting—this is an issue Jack Nicholson will never have. It’s in the film’s supporting roles, fortunately, that Payne’s observations are beautifully driven home, particularly Hope Davis’ as Nicholson’s daughter, long ignored and unwilling to allow her father further access. Davis is stunning, a complex, emotional woman with full understanding of the control she exercises and an unwillingness to sublimate that control to that of her father’s; she underscores the shrinking significance of Nicholson’s character that is at the heart of the film. The other fine performances are from Dermot Mulroney (as the ne’er do well groom), Kathy Bates (somehow sensual as the groom’s earthy mother) and Howard Hesseman (as Bates’ pathetic ex-husband).

03-25-2003, 08:27 AM
I really enjoyed Jack Nicholson, finally. Ever since his screechy, The Shining role, I haven't enjoyed Nicholson's performances - his characters have mostly been weird, strange, and blandly similar. I found that Nicholson was at his best in this movie, just because he didn't reprise his stereotypical character in this movie. I enjoyed watching him act in this movie. If you want Nicholson acting you can go watch him Anger Management - now that's acting.