Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"Stan & Ollie"

It’s hard for someone of my generation to believe that there are people who don’t even know who legendary comedians Laurel and Hardy were, having been brought up in a world where, apparently, copyright issues kept their films off mainstream TV for many years. If there’s any justice, Jon S. Baird’s “Stan & Ollie” will help remedy this woeful situation; as well as being a beautiful work of art in its own right.
The film, scripted by Steve Coogan’s long-time collaborator Jeff Pope, takes some liberties with historical fact, showing Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, some years after the peak of their Hollywood popularity, touring relatively small venues in the U.K. in the hope of resurrecting their film career. As well as money worries, the relationship between the two is a tad fractious (although not nearly as poisonous as that of other famed comedy duos), and Oliver’s health is failing.
"Stan & Ollie"
As good as Coogan is as Stan, John C. Reilly is the real revelation, simply disappearing (under significant quantities of make-up) into Oliver, Pope’s script cleverly allowing the pair to riff on their comedy business in real-life scenarios. Shirley Henderson and, more showily, Nina Arianda, are excellent as their supportive wives, and Rufus Jones is suitably smarmy as impresario Bernard Delfont.
This is a flawlessly realised tale of love and respect between two men; that rare film which has you laughing with tears in your eyes.

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