Directed by Stephen Hopkins, starring Geoffrey Rush, Charlize Theron, Emily Watson, John Lithgrow, Miriam Margoyles, Peter Vaughan, Stanley Tucci, Stephen Fry, Alison Steadman, Edward Tudor-Pole, Nigel Havers and Mackenzie Crook.
To most people who remember his work, Peter Sellers was a comic genius and a commander of the silver screen. But behind the spotlight of fame lurked an insecure and often deluded man, one who tried so hard to achieve his own piece of perfection that he often severed ties with those who were closest to him.
Geoffrey Rush plays Sellers with such passion, charm and wit that he puts a larger than life stamp on every scene. His portrayal of the tragically tortured soul is captured wonderfully through his many expressions and guises. Jumping into the personas of the people who touch his life, Rush too excels in capturing the mother, first wife and work acquaintances of the star, in Sellers' take on each of them.
From his beginning as a radio comedian on 'The Goon Show', through his marriages and on to his eventual passing, 'The Life and Death of Peter Sellers' is a biopic that abandons formula in favour of its final result. And that end is beautifully achieved through the portrayal of all that we didn't see of the man who was Dr Stangelove and Inspector Clouseau at the height of his Hollywood career.
Married to Anne (Watson), Sellers was prone to over-reactions where both his children and his wife were concerned, until he eventually came home and announced that he was leaving them to be with one of his leading ladies, Sophia Loren, despite her rejection of his advances. His subsequent marriage to Britt Ekland (Theron) is shown to have similarly destructive effects as the seeds of self-doubt begin to sprout and Sellers finds that old habits die hard.
It appears to all the world that the gifted actor and comedian just wasn't prepared to grow up and his relationship with his mother (Margoyles) is captured wonderfully here, moving from total reliance to utter ambivalence. Prone to mood swings and bouts of desperate depression, Sellers always sought comfort from his mother, until he became too important for such solace. Through clashes with his wives, mother and directors Blake Edwards and Stanley Kubrick, a fraction of the complex man that was Peter Sellers shines through. This can be credited in no small part to the energy that Rush brings to the part.
If you are familiar with the public persona of Sellers throughout his career, then you're likely to find this a very interesting insight into what made him tick.