Directed by Hal Ashby and released in it’s home country of America in 1979.
Despite having only seen Hal Ashby’s Harold & Maude, just minutes into this I knew the kind of humour to expect with this. Very dry and very morbid at times, Being There is a strange film with a very strange protagonist and it’s a wonder that any of the other characters in this film were taken in by his childishness. I guess the lesson here is that TV can’t teach you everything, but it can fool people into believing you know everything.
Nonetheless, Being There is a very beautifully shot film with a host of powerful performances, aside from the great deadpan performance of the brilliant Peter Sellers, Melvyn Douglas’ is the other most notable performance here for his magnificent turn as Benjamin Rand. The parallel between the presidents impotency and Peter Sellers’ unbeknownst celibacy is so fantastically written and I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard “You like to watch!? I’ll get Warren!” The president isn’t the only one not getting any, the lack of sex in this film culminates in a masturbation scene that I will never forget.
Speaking of Shirley MacLaine, she is the most perfect woman ever. I want to build a time machine just go to back in time and bring her back with me. Still though, she was cuter in The Apartment – even though it was 19 years earlier…. and she still looks amazing in this! The inevitably sad final ten minutes is let down by an ending that makes you read more into it than is deserved.