Instant Classic

Paramount Theatre's Summer 2000 Series


D: Stanley Kubrick; with Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, Steven Berkoff. (PG, 184 min.)

Barry Lyndon is slow as molasses in January and just as sweet, with a camera that lingers, soulfully kissing and savoring each moment. With immaculate precision of detail, Kubrick constructs his story of the hapless rogue Lyndon, portrayed by that expert at haplessness, Ryan O'Neal, no heavyweight in the acting department, but cute enough not to have to be. The lengthy script about the rogue's success has been tailored in such a way that it flatters O'Neal's meager abilities. By method of Michael Hordem's sonorous narration, much of what O'Neal has to do is look handsome in his 18th-century wardrobe. And that he does. The same is virtually true of co-star Marisa Berenson, who also co-starred in Cabaret. She is not an incredibly gifted actress, but she is, indeed, an incredibly gifted beauty. So she, too, must rely on her attractiveness. This is a time-honored Hollywood tradition that still lives and breathes today. If they gave Oscars for being attractive (and they do, don't they, Gwyneth?), this movie would have raked in the awards. It won four, anyway -- Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Musical Adaptation. But as the film clocks in at over three hours, Kubrick fans are deeply conflicted over whether or not this is a masterpiece. (8/6)

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