“MERCI DOCTEUR REY”–a Merchant-Ivory gay comedy

“MERCI DOCTEUR REY”

A Merchant-Ivory Gay Comedy

Amos Lassen

Deliciously decadent describes this comedy with an all star cast and whereas it is from the brilliant team of Merchant-Ivory, we know we are in for a treat. This is a French-American comedy set in contemporary Paris. American opera diva, Elisabeth Beaumont (Dianne Wiest), wants to be able to talk to communicate with her 23 year old son, Thomas.

Thomas is gay but in the closet (or so he thinks). His greatest pastime is eating hash brownies and calling gay phone lines in search of a date.

Elisabeth is hard at work preparing for her starring role in “Turnadot” and Thomas decides to set up a date where he will hide in the closet and watch a stranger have sex. Things don’t quite work out that way and instead of watching a sexual escapade; he is witness to murder—of the same guy who set up the date. It turns out that this very same man is his own father and Thomas feels he must find the murderer and avenge the wrongful death of his dad. Joining him is

Vanessa Redgrave whom he had become friendly with while visiting his psychiatrist, Doctor Rey, who has been trying to make peace between father and son. Complicated? Not really—when you watch the shenanigans, you will be amazed at quickly you will figure it all

Out—or will you?

Does it sound screwball? It is and it is delightful—subtle and acted with perfection, here is another feel good movie. Jane Birkin is sublime as Penelope and Dianne Wiest is wonderful as the diva.

When you see the name Ishmail Merchant, you know you are usually in for a good movie. Andrew Litvack who directed and wrote

this film did the Merchant-Ivory team proud. Thomas is portrayed by hunky Stanislas Merhar and pulls a double duty role—struggling with his own gayness and being saddled with an overbearing mother. Birkin, as I said before is amazing as a bumbling fumbler but the movie belongs to the diva whose barbs and remarks make this such a treat. This crazy farce that deals with narcissism is as sane as it is crazy. There are slamming doors, insane situations and revolving hashish cakes—what more could we ask for?

As slender as the plot is, it is beguiling—it is implausible but it is wonderful, a witty pleasurable look into the absurdities of life. “Docteur Rey” is another hit for us and not to be missed.

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