|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
2006 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
In THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH, there is
footage of a silent short film that was directed by Busch which showed
promise. The theatrical legend has already moved to the big screen
as writer and star of PSYCHO BEACH PARTY and DIE, MOMMIE, DIE!
and now steps behind the camera to mark his feature directorial debut
with A VERY SERIOUS PERSON, which he co-wrote with Carl Andress.
To my great disappointment, I have to report that the film is a mixed
bag at best. While Busch show promise as a director, the piece retains
to much theatricality to function properly as a film. The screenplay is
uneven and there are pieces of the story that don't feel integrated.
The premise is that the elderly and sickly Mrs. A (Polly Bergen)
is dying and expects to spend her final days at her summer home in
the company of her teenage grandson Gil (newcomer P.J. Verhoest).
An employment agency sends over a new nurse, Jan (Busch in male
drag) who supposedly hails from Denmark. Jan (pronounced YAAN)
arrives in the middle of the night and seemingly works wonders with
Mrs. A, quickly upstaging long-time housekeeper Betty (Dana Ivey)
and undertaking a sort of mentor relationship with Gil.
It seems that once Mrs. A dies, Gil is to be shipped off to relatives
in Florida and as Jan gets to know the sensitive kid (who clearly is
gay), he comes to a decision that would have an impact on both his
own life as well as Gil's.
One of the biggest problems for me was Busch's accent -- which
fluctuated from scene to scene, but never once sounded properly
Scandanavian. I also had some difficulties with the supporting characters
played by Julie Halston and Andress. To me, it was as if they arrived
from another movie altogether -- a much more campy and theatrical
The best thing about A VERY SERIOUS PERSON was the
presence of Polly Bergen who delivered a nice performance, although
Mrs. A's illness was never completely explained. (Or if it was it was
such a throwaway, I missed it.) Still, Bergen enlivens the film each
time she is on screen.
I hope when Busch makes his next movie, he has stronger
Rating: C -