Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Death Of a Salesman (1985)

Stars : Dustin Hoffman, Kate Reid, John Malkovich, Stephen Lang, Charles Durning, Louis Zorich

Directed By:   Volker Schlöndorff

Written By: Arthur Miller

Few days back I saw Dustin Hoffman with James Lipton in Inside Actors Studio  getting very emotional while talking about this movie. No doubt Dustin Hoffman is one of the legends of acting and if he does a movie with so much heart then it becomes high priority to watch the movie and finally I was able to watch it this weekend

Willy Loman ( Dustin Hoffman ) a very old salesman, who has been working for the same firm for the last 35 years traveling across the cities has been struggling with his life. Though its nothing new but off lately things have turned worse. He has been working on commission basis for the last three months for the company he gave his entire life to and hasn't been able to put through the daily expenses as well. His lovely wife Linda Loman (Kate Reid) has been trying her best to make it better for her husband in what ever resources she is left with. Willy has two sons Biff (John Malkovich) and Harold (Stephen Lang) , both stars of Willy's eye and specially Biff. Biff is 34 yrs and hasn't been able to make something of himself , he is still unemployed and comes home after long intervals. Biff and his father don't share the same camaraderie anymore which they used to have 17 yrs ago. Willy lived for his sons, he always thought that Biff will achieve great success like Willy's elder brother Ben who was a diamond merchant and it pains him to see Biff's life in pieces. One day Willy gets fired from his job and hopes his sons will bring him good news after Biff decides to make an attempt at changing his relationship with his father and his life. But nothing turns the way Willy imagined so he decides to commit suicide so that his son and his beloved wife can have the insurance money and  happiness which he struggled to provide them.

The day I heard Mr. Hoffman talking about Death of a Salesman I had to watch it. Mr. Hoffman as Willy Loman gives one of his best ever performance. In every character Mr. Hoffman has done he has given his best and brought tears n joy to millions but this was special. This character as he himself said was close to his heart and I could see the heart he has put in the role. His small steps which have been his characteristics, the grin almost everything about Willy Loman was so real that Mr. Dustin Hoffman was no where to be seen behind those wrinkles of Willy's face. One of the most heartfelt character from Mr. Hoffman's illustrious career even  better than Raymond, one of Mr. Hoffman's most famous roles. The pain, remorse, joy and bitterness each emotion was brought up so beautifully by Mr. Hoffman that I felt he was not just playing it but he was living the character.

John Malkovich  has played a lot of supporting roles and I have seen a few of his films and I always felt he was good to OK in them but as Biff a man who is struggling not just with his relationships , life but with his beliefs is amazing. He essays the young confident Biff with equal ease to the lost, bitter and fighting within 34 yr old Biff. In scenes with Mr. Hoffman specially in the last part he does extremely well to hold up in front of him. Kate Reid as loving and caring wife who is pained by the situation of the man she loves the most and a mother who is torn between the love of her son and husband does a wonderful job. She holds the character and provides the steady anchor to her husband even though she knows he has been trying to kill himself. There ain't many characters in the movie but all of them, Charles Durning as Charlie ,Stephen Lang as Harold all have done a brilliant job, which has made this movie such a touching tale.

The movie is a screen adaptation of a 1949 play by Arthur Miller by the same name "Death Of a Salesman (Play)" and its very well directed by Volker who keeps the story real and the emotional struggle within and between Willy and Biff so touching.One of the most poignant tales i have seen in a very long time. Best work from Mr. Hoffman to whom this movie was very very special and he has put in all his heart in it. Its a must watch for its amazing screenplay and performances from the cast.

Plus : Wonderful script , excellent performances.

Rating : 9 /10

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