Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle

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Alan Rudolph's The Moderns celebrated the American away team of the '20s - Hemingway and pals. This companion biopic of the mistress of the bon mot, Manhattanite Dorothy Parker, paints a similar mass portrait of the wits, wags and writers of the home team. All the Rudolph trademarks are here: the improvisatory feel, the overlapping dialogue, the ironic but celebratory tone, the vital performances from leads (Jennifer Jason Leigh as Parker and Broderick as Charles MacArthur, in particular) and cameos. Then there's the delight in design (François Séguin's low-lit speakeasies and hotel rooms), and the roving camera style (Jan Kiesser); the interest in art and artifice, genius and suffering. Rudolph and JJL manage to make this 'brilliant bitch' entirely fascinating, if not completely sympathetic. In perhaps the one scene where she looks radiantly happy, Parker says to MacArthur, 'Oh, Charlie, I'm going to wear my heart on my sleeve like a red wet stain.' She could be speaking for Rudolph. Absolutely superb.

Release details

Duration: 124 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alan Rudolph
Screenwriter: Alan Rudolph, Randy Sue Coburn
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Campbell Scott
Matthew Broderick
Andrew McCarthy
Tim McGowan
Nick Cassavetes
Matt Malloy
Sam Robards
Wallace Shawn
Keith Carradine
Gwyneth Paltrow
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