Featuring James Gandolfini, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Rob Bowman, Nathan Lane, Tracy Morgan, Paul Iacono, John Tuturro.
Directed By Chiemi Karasawa
A compromised look at an uncompromising actress. Elaine Stritch passed away today, and watching the new documentary about her life, especially one that features James Gandolfini, is really a film that reminds you of your own mortality.
Of course, the director does that too, as we’re not just watching Stritch as a legend. We’re watching Stritch dealing with her own mortality as well, battling low blood sugar, memory problems, and her age. For a woman at 86, she really is fierce, and attacks her performances as best as she can. She’s at home on the stage, and refuses to give up.
There’s something to be said about how the documentary doesn’t quite do her justice, showing her at her weakest, yet it feels oddly controlled by Stritch. There are times, where she speaks directly to the cameraman, and orders him around. She orders a lot of people around. I think Stritch ultimately got the film she wanted, which is odd that she wanted a film that reminds us how old she is.
On another hand, it is a love letter to a legend. Elaine Stritch deserved to have a film about her, that explains her from start to finish, and allows Stritch to have final say on her own life. It’s a look into what was one of our last living legends. She knew the Marx Brothers, Cole Porter, Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Johnny Carson. The history we have lost with Elaine Stritch…. the stories she could tell.
Elaine knew her time was near. In some heartbreaking final moments in the film, she finds herself in the hospital, and really has a serious talk about her life. She didn’t want to give up, and was only interested in fighting to keep performing and keep entertaining. A consummate performer, Elaine Stritch is forever immortalized in a film about her facing her own mortality. Part of me feels she deserved a film about the presumption that Stritch was always immortal. Sometimes, the best part about the magic trick, is not knowing how it’s done. The best part about Stritch was always that she seemed to just keep going on and on forever.
FINAL GRADE: B