20th Century Flicks:
Dir: Hal Ashby, 1979, USA, 130 mins, Cert: 12
Thu 21 December // 20:00
Tickets: £5 (full) / £4 (concession)
With films such as Harold and Maude, The Landlord and The Last Detail, outsider filmmaker Hal Ashby spent much of the 1970s taking aim at the pillars of American bourgeois society, and this, his final film of the decade, was no exception. It centres on Chance (Peter Sellars), a taciturn, simple-minded middle-aged gardener who, following the death of his wealthy benefactor, is thrust into the unfamiliar surrounds of the outside world. Rescued by Eve (Shirley MacLaine), the high society wife of an elderly business mogul, Chance’s simple observations become mistaken for profound allegories, and he soon unwittingly becomes both the toast of the Washington political establishment and an unlikely public intellectual. At once an absurdist satire of television, celebrity and the politics of its era and a melancholy study of ageing and death, it also stands as the crowning glory of Peter Sellars’s long comedy career.