In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb same kind of different as me

Same Kind of Different as Me

It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…

Thumb mv5bnda4ymmwmgity2mzos00odjilthmzdetyza5ngu4zjq5yjhixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 674 1000 al

Geostorm

God knows how many millions of dollars and hours of manpower went into making and remaking Geostorm but it turns out to have been all…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Bye Bye Braverman

  |  

Sidney Lumet's "Bye Bye Braverman" is a good movie gone wrong. Its premise was promising: Four liberal Jewish intellectuals learn that one of their friends, Leslie Braverman, has dropped dead at the untimely age of 41. They set off together in a Volkswagen to attend his funeral, but at some time during that long Sunday afternoon their trip turns into an odyssey of unfulfilled ambition, bittersweet comedy and the fear of death.

We never met Braverman. But we meet his bitchy wife (Jessica Walter), whose "sophisticated" cruel treatment of her daughter gives us a hint of what Braverman had to put up with. And we meet his friends: George Segal, a public relations man; Joseph Wiseman, a Norman Thomas socialist; Sorrell Booke, a compulsively tidy writer, and Jack Warden, an aging playboy.

Advertisement

When they learn of Braverman's death, they meet in Greenwich Village and drive to Brooklyn. They can't quite find the funeral, but they run across strange creatures: Godfrey Cambridge, as a sort of black Jewish taxi driver; Alan King, as a rabbi; and a strange lady at the wrong funeral. They also pass a lot of colorful real estate, lovingly photographed by Lumet, who also goes up in a helicopter to show the Volkswagen scurrying under overpasses.

Segal, the central character, has fantasies of his own failure and death. It would be better to die young, he muses, than to die in the middle of things at 41. Better to do nothing at all than to get stopped halfway. He ponders these questions as they search for Leslie Braverman, departed.

This is Lumet's first comedy. He usually makes social dramas ("Long Day's Journey Into Night," "The Pawnbroker," "A View from the Bridge"), and the timing of "Bye Bye Braverman" seems more suited to a serious mood than to humor.

There is also a tendency to slip into exaggerated Jewish stereotypes: Alan King's rabbi is particularly offensive, and other characters speak a dialog that rings as false as stage or music hall German. Segal himself played a much more subtly delineated Jewish character in "No Way to Treat a Lady."

The movie has its moments. There is a scene where Segal wanders through one of those endless New York cemeteries. It is shot with a telephoto lens, and begins with Segal as a speck among a universe of gravestones. Segal crisscrosses his way closer to the camera, which moves in on him very slowly during a long speech. He tells the dead what has happened in the meantime. The shot ends in close-up.

Good things like this do not redeem "Bye Bye Braverman's" slow pace, however; and this must be reckoned a movie for buffs who want to observe Lumet's studied, rich style. A general audience would probably find it dull, and would probably be right.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

Oscars Could Be Facing Dearth of Diversity Yet Again

A column on the lack of diversity in this year's potential Oscar nominees.

Tears of a Machine: The Humanity of Luv in "Blade Runner 2049"

No character in “Blade Runner 2049” is more relatably human than Luv.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus