Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1984
Directed by
John Huston
111 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Under The Volcano

John Huston had a reputation as a hard-drinkin’ man so perhaps this attracted him to Malcolm Lowry's semi-autobiographical 1947 novel,'Under the Volcano' about a disgraced alcoholic diplomat in Mexico on the eve of WW2. Albert Finney plays the diplomat, Jacqueline Bisset his wife and Anthony Andrews, his supportive half-brother.

I read the novel long ago and have now completely forgotten it but on the strength of what one sees here it is essentially unfilmable. Hence the suspicion that a seasoned film-maker like Huston was swayed by some over-identificatory delusion into making what turned out to be a rather painfully pointless film.

The principal problem with the film is that there is little to it other than Finney’s performance. Such things can carry off a film but not only is Finney’s self-indulgent and self-destructive character not one that one feels disposed towards (at least as a teetotaller) but everything else about the film’s making is so banal as to reduce it to a largely wasted effort.

Although the opening titles make much of Mexico’s religious death-haunted iconography that is so well suited to the spiritual nihilism that infects the diplomat's world-view this never comes alive in the story. Guy Gallo's screenplay is overwrought and Bisset, who here looks remarkably like Julie Christie, and Andrews are bland supports. Which pretty much leaves you with Finney staggering around and guzzling booze for 111 minutes, something which leaves one to ask the fatal question: Who cares?

Available from: Shock Entertainment




Want something different?

random vintage best worst