Death of a Ladies’ Man
Death of a Ladies’ Man is both poignant and funny; like a morbid Sunshine on Leith featuring songs by Leonard Cohen but with less singing and more hallucinations that blur the line between imagination and reality. Following the premise of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Matt Bissonnette’s film focuses on literature professor Samuel O’Shea (Gabriel Byrne) as he spirals down an alcoholic path of failed marriages, a stagnant love life and an ageing and ailing body. Finding out about a tumour on his brain is the least of his worries, as he continues to see bizarre images in his everyday life – of waitresses with tiger faces, fake girlfriends, Frankenstein and his dead father’s ghost. The stranger his visions, the more he slips into his age and illness. Samuel’s experience can be summed up in one quote from the film itself: “The human mind is a strange, wonderful, terrible thing”.
There are a lot of interesting dynamics in Death of a Ladies’ Man. Samuel’s interactions with his father Ben (Brian Gleeson) are very playful and the pair offer one of the most entertaining tandems throughout the entire feature. There’s also a lot to appreciate in the love his daughter Josée (Karelle Tremblay) has for him, and how well he and his ex-wife Geneviève (Suzanne Clément) get along. The production makes use of symmetry to really highlight the nuances at play in these relationships, through side-by-side shots and conversations across the table that physically visualise the divide between Samuel and his family as he descends further into his madness. More than just that, the film provides contextual clues to showcase the little struggles the other characters also face.
The colour filter remains the same throughout, allowing fiction and reality to merge, even for the audience, immersing them in Samuel’s experience and really selling how much he believes in what he’s seeing. Integrating Cohen’s music with the gentle and upbeat score keeps everything in a perfect balance, with rhythmic beats playing off the visuals. For example, the crescendo for the song Memories acts as a guide for Samuel discovering Linda cheating on him. Other production quirks include the split into three parts – completely different from Death of a Salesman’s two-act structure – and the little title cards in between. These lean further into the film’s dark sense of humour and even nod toward Samuel’s literary expertise.
Death of a Ladies’ Man is released digitally on demand on 25th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Death of a Ladies’ Man here: