Stan & Ollie
21st October 2018 7.45pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
21st October 2018 8.45pm at Curzon Mayfair
Making a comedy about two icons of slapstick is a road so full of pitfalls that even the great men themselves would probably just have taken a different route – one marked “new tarmac” perhaps. And yet the film – like the marriage of a six-foot-one, 280-pound Georgian with a rake of a man from the north of England – just works.
Stan and Ollie follows the iconic Hollywood duo’s fortunes away from the silver screen as they tour the provincial theatres of 1950s England in the hope of securing funding for a Robin Hood picture. Sparsely populated venues are the least of their troubles though as their past, their wives and Hardy’s future in the face of deteriorating health all get in the way.
Even the greatest names rely on their supporting cast, and in this case, as the gloriously oleaginous and duplicitous tour manager Bernard Delfont (Rufus Jones) puts it, the audience get “two double acts for the price of one”. Ida Laurel (an inspired Nina Arianda) is a Hollywood diva dripping with diamonds and dismissal, lacking only the screen career to go with her attitude. Her foil Lucille Hardy (an equally masterful Shirley Henderson) is quietly determined to see her husband protected from both himself and his partner.
The film works because of the love, care and attention that shines out of every pore. Exactly as Stan Laurel spent hours fastidiously writing and choreographing each scene, it is clear that the team behind this film – especially stars Steve Coogan and John C Reilly – have a deep love for the comedy of the eponymous double-act and an absolute commitment to do it justice. Whether it’s Ollie fondling his necktie or Stan’s eyebrows, which move on strings entirely independent from the rest of his face, the mimicry is nigh on perfect. But it’s by getting beyond catchphrases and beneath mannerisms, into the minds and bodies of its subjects, that Stan and Ollie is able to deliver pathos as well as homage.
Stan and Ollie is released nationwide on 11th January 2019.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Stan and Ollie here: