Christopher Plummer deservedly won a Tony for portraying the late, great John Barrymore in William Luce’s play on Broadway, and Erik Canuel’s movie captures Plummer’s performance for posterity, as he reprises the role for a Toronto audience. It’s undeniably a delicious turn: one legendary actor playing another while spitting over delicious bons mots. (“He died what New Yorkers call a natural death…he was hit by a taxi.”) But Canuel’s direction mostly extends to making sure the camera is on and pointed at his star; even the Shakespearean bits (Barrymore is prepping a potential comeback involving Richard III) feel unimaginative. This isn’t a film, it’s a recording of canned ham—tasty, certainly, but creaky nonetheless.
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