The Stunt Man Review

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The Stunt Man (1980)

Director: Richard Rush

Writers: Lawrence B. Marcus (screenplay), Richard Rush(adaptation)

Stars: Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey

Step by step from silent, non-color cinema, we reached 1980. Why were this year important in cinema world?  Because “The Stunt Man” came out! The film was not very popular among Americans, but it was nominated for three “Academy Awards”: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Peter O’Toole), Best Director (Richard Rush), and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The film is about the young veteran Cameron (Steve Railsback). While he is running from the police, he stumbles onto the set of a World War I and is not sure if he accidentally caused the death of one of the film’s stunt man. The director of the film agrees to hide Cameron with one condition: he must take the dead man’s place.

I have double feelings for this movie. The main createria for me is involvement. This time I did not feel it. The beginning of the film was great, but after a period of time I got bored.  It was quite hard to understand why it is like that. Maybe my expectations for this movie were just too big.

One the other hand, I think that script was great and the idea to show movie about movie creation was brilliant. The scene, which was taken near beach (filming World War I movie) astonished me. It was quite realistic and the audience reactions helped to create bigger impression. Though, one thing confused me. Some moments it was hard to understand reality or fiction was showing in the film. There were no clear boundaries and the meaning of constantly appearing 555 number looked odd. It was everywhere, on clocks 05:55, on doors, prices etc… Though I looked it up at meaning555.com and it meant change. It made sense as this film is full of it. Also it looks like Cameron himself could not understand what the reality was. He had no information about the scenes he had to do, so he started paranoid thinking that the director was trying to kill him for the sake of getting the best shot. 

Another weird thing was Cameron’s and Nina’s relationship. It was quite hard to understand how strong their love was. Cameron loved Nina despite his disappointment that she slept with another man – Eli. Also after the episode when they were decided to run away before the last shot, Nina broke their agreement (to hide in the trunk). Cameron drives the car off a bridge and sinks in a river as part of a stunt Eli has goaded him into. Luckily he survived, but Nina was not in the car. Despite it, Cameron still trusted her.  At some moments it was possible to notice that their love was not real. Finally, one more important person in this film was Eli. He was totally bastard. He did not care about people’s dignity or even life. All he wanted was to create a film (a piece of art) with real emotions, expressions. So he used actors like a dolls in order to achieve realistic performances.

All in all, as I said before, I expected more from this film. Its’ technical side was interesting, actors’ performance were wonderful and the attempt to show what is happening in the film creating process and “ beyond the lights” were great, but the problem maybe was that everything happened too fast and there were too much action, so at the same rate just became boring.

By Sandra Stanulionyte

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