- 1 hr 34 min
Butley is a witty and relatable tragicomedy from the UK, released in 1974, directed by Harold Pinter and starring Alan Bates in the lead role, with Jessica Tandy, Richard O'Callaghan, and other talented actors. The film follows the life of Ben Butley, an English literature professor at a London University, who is going through a midlife crisis. He is struggling to come to terms with his failed marriage, his fading career, and his complicated relationship with a younger man named Joey Keyston (played by O'Callaghan). Butley is snarky, sarcastic, and deeply cynical. He uses humor as a coping mechanism, but his wit and intelligence often alienate those around him.
The story takes place in a single day, as Butley navigates various social interactions and academic responsibilities, culminating in a confrontation with Joey. The film captures the tension, humor, and pain of Butley's heightened emotional state with great skill.
Alan Bates delivers a nuanced and powerful performance as Butley, seamlessly transitioning between humor and melancholy. Jessica Tandy plays his ex-wife Anne, who still cares for Butley despite their divorce. Her character brings a touch of warmth, compassion, and pragmatism to the story. Richard O'Callaghan is excellent as the troubled and manipulative Joey, who is both attracted and repelled by Butley's personality.
The film's screenplay, adapted from Simon Gray's play, is sharp and incisive, packed with witty one-liners and clever wordplay. The dialogues are fast-paced and engaging, showcasing the complex relationships and emotions of the characters. Harold Pinter's direction is subtle yet effective, highlighting the nuances of the plot and the characters' personalities with great attention to detail.
The film's production design is impressive too, with most of the action taking place in Butley's cramped and cluttered office. The claustrophobic setting adds to the film's sense of urgency and confinement, emphasizing the protagonist's feeling of being trapped in his own life.
Butley offers a poignant and insightful exploration of human relationships, identity, and aging. It tackles themes such as intellectual jealousy, self-doubt, homophobia, and emotional vulnerability with intelligence and sensitivity. The film's ending is both bittersweet and cathartic, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.
In conclusion, Butley is a must-watch for fans of character-driven dramas with strong performances, witty dialogues, and emotional depth. It is a timeless classic that still resonates with audiences today, 47 years after its release. The film is a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring appeal of complex, flawed, yet relatable characters.
Butley is a 1974 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7.