This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-02-04.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> March 2000 >> Being There
I was a little surprised that I didn't recognize Peter Sellers at the beginning of Being There. He lacked the Clouseau moustache and he looked a bit older than I expected. Chance the Gardener is quite the minimal chracter, required mostly to stand still and let things happen to him. Sellers is marvelous at standing still, with just the slightest smile on his face, a smile that the other chracters in the movie mistake for quiet wisdom. It is something of a stretch that so few people would see right through to Chance's true nature, but the trust afforded a well-dressed white male in America, something the movie pauses to reflect on, can be surprising. It is not so much a stretch that the other characters project their expectations onto Chance's blank personality.
The rest of the movie has earnest performances by big names like Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, and Jack Warden. MacLaine's rampant feelings for the impossibly enigmatic Chance are always entertaining. The increasing fear that Warden shows is also very amusing.
Being There draws heavily from television broadcasts to make sense of Chance's view of the universe. I had heard about the romantic scene with Eve, but I hadn't heard what was on TV at the time. By bizarre coincidence, it's The Thomas Crown Affair, which I'd just seen. Director Hal Ashby was the editor for Crown, so I shouldn't be surprised.