Monday, March 23, 2009

Tuesdays with Morrie

When I worked in the bookstore, one of the perennially popular titles was Tuesdays with Morrie, which I never actually got round to reading completely. In fact, I may have only read the blurb and the first few pages. However, I knew pretty much what it was about, and it was always one of those books I thought I'd get around to sometime.
By chance I came across the DVD of the TV film version yesterday, and thought it would be worth a look. Though when I saw as the titles began that it was produced by Oprah, I began to wonder.
It turned out to be very emotional, and probably highly predictable, but it's saved by two marvellous performances. Jack Lemmon, in his last credited role (there's an uncredited one a year later) was 74 when he made it, and obviously still spry enough to do a fairly sedate tango. He plays a dying old man with huge dignity, integrity, humour and honesty, and never rings a sour note. It was a fitting role to go out on. Hank Azaria, whose face and name were both familiar, but I couldn't think from what (he is, of course, one of the regulars on The Simpsons) is equally good in a role that requires him much of the time to be the lead-in to a lot of Lemmon's lines. He has his own scenes away from Lemmon, and he's good in these too, but it's the combination that really fires.
I often find TV movies have a kind of slickness compared to the most well-made movies. This one doesn't seem to have that. Even the bit players are spot on.
The copy we borrowed from the library, however, must have had a scratch on it: it got about ten minutes in and wouldn't move forward. Fortunately, I managed to get it to skip the problem area, and the rest was fine.
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