Dean Spanley (U)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Hugely enjoyable comedy-drama with a delightfully witty, off-the-wall script and a terrific performance from Sam Neill.

What's it all about?
Directed by Toa Fraser, Dean Spanley is set in 1904 and stars Jeremy Northam as Henslowe Fisk, who decides to take his ailing father (Peter O'Toole) to a lecture on reincarnation, where they meet an enthusiastic Australian named Wrather (Bryan Brown). Whilst attending the lecture, they become fascinated with Dean Spanley (Sam Neill) and when they meet again, they ask him to dinner, enticing him with a rare Hungarian wine named Imperial Tokay.

Over the course of the dinner, Dean Spanley begins to recount what appear to be strange recollections of a past life. However, as his stories unfold, it becomes clear that Spanley and Fisk may share a closer connection than either of them realised.

The Good
In all honesty, it is best to see Dean Spanley knowing as little about it as possible, since giving away any detail would ruin the film's delightful surprises. Suffice it to say that the wonderfully witty script takes a decidedly unexpected turn and that the rewards are both hilarious and ultimately moving.

Sam Neill is utterly brilliant in the lead role, delivering a performance that borders on the absurd, to the point where you can't quite believe what you're hearing. Northam anchors the film with a typically solid performance, while there's scene-stealing support from Bryan Brown and yet another powerfully moving performance from Peter O'Toole.

The Great
Essentially, the film is the ultimate shaggy dog story, in that you're constantly waiting for something to happen, but you won't quite believe it when it does. To that end, the script crackles with great dialogue and layers in several lines and moments that will reward further viewings.

Worth seeing?
In short, Dean Spanley is funny, clever and ultimately extremely moving. It's also utterly unlike anything else you'll have seen all year – see it now, before someone gives away the plot. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Dean Spanley (U)
Dean Spanley has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 20/10/2017 18:54

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films