'Tis obviously the season for Hollywood legends to earn their stripes playing other Hollywood legends. While the trumpets have been rightfully sounded for Michael Douglas's disciplined portrayal of Liberace, some notes should be reserved for Al Pacino giving it his all as Phil Spector.
The biopic, shown on Sky Atlantic this past weekend, concentrates on the relationship between the eccentric legendary music producer, and Linda Kenney Baden, the defence attorney charged with defending him during his murder trial, after aspiring actress Lana Clarkson died in his Hollywood castle.
Clarkson's family have criticised this drama in its prominent depiction of the suicide theory, but it also showed a possible accident, and didn't hold back in depicting the whimsical violence of the unpredictable Spector, evil or just eccentric, depending on who you believe...
If anyone were left doubting Helen Mirren's versatility, she proves it once again with her warmth and relaxed understatement as Baden, with her suspicion but also sympathy for her client, in this engrossing, leave-you-wondering drama.
Through the eyes of Baden, we see the vulnerable side, too, of a genius who was a master of the mixing desk but not equally equipped to deal with life, or women, outside the studio. That famous moment when Spector turned up for what was meant to be his turn on the stand, wearing a wig the size of a privet hedge, is a scene played out between the pair of them in all its tragi-comedy.
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