The Final Curtain (2002) / Drama-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for language, some violence and brief drug use
Running Time: 85 min.
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Adrian Lester, Aidan Gillen, Julia Sawalha, Ralph Brown
Director: Patrick Harkins
Screenplay: John Hodge
Review published August 20, 2003
Perhaps the best thing you can say about The Final Curtain is that it's only 85 minutes long. The worst thing you can say is that it's 85 minutes of your life you won't get back again.
O'Toole (Phantoms, My Favorite Year) plays an aging (and ailing) game show host in the UK, who hires on a writer (Lester, Maybe Baby) to write his biography as a testament to his greatness after he passes. Meanwhile, there is another hotshot game show host (Gillem, Shanghai Knights) threatening to take his crown as the #1 show, and he is fiercely competitive to secure the rights to taking the show to America as well. There is no end to the madness and mayhem for these feuding egotists.
There's quite a bit of talent on display here, such that The Final Curtain should be seen as a major disappointment for all involved. The only redeeming quality to the film (other than the aforementioned running time) comes from the quality performances by the lead actors, especially Peter O'Toole, who exudes devilish charm in one of his best performances in years. Younger stars Lester and Gillen also provide solid supporting roles, which only serves to frustrate more as the story sinks from dull to painfully bad in the end.
Only O'Toole's fans need apply to this horribly executed black comedy, written by John Hodge, who has done far better in films like Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. Blame Harkins for not getting the tone of the comedy right, playing it as a dramatic thriller, and making this one of the least enjoyable films you're likely to see this year. Make yourself a deal, and decide never to see what's behind this curtain.
©2003 Vince Leo