Old Lemmon gets Bitter
Singer Gillian Fairchild (Julie Andrews) may have throat cancer, then again she may not but after going in for a biopsy on her throat on a Friday she has the whole weekend to wait before the results will be back. Choosing to keep her worries a secret she returns home for the weekend as her husband Harvey (Jack Lemmon) is celebrating his 60th birthday and the whole family are coming around. Although celebrating maybe the wrong word for Harvey as suddenly he has realised he is old and whilst has had a successful career as an architect which has afforded him and Gillian a beautiful Malibu home with staff he has ended up compromising on who he is and becoming a hypochondriac. Harvey is so wrapped up in his own world and fear of dying that he can't see that things are not right with his wife.
"That's Life" is one of those movies which when you split up into all its little sections works but unfortunately when you bring them together as a whole they don't work. For example we have this basic story of a man who has become self obsessed and doesn't notice things are not right at home, which is good and so is the comedy of Jack Lemmon as the self obsessed husband but when combined it is too much of an odd pairing. It is a shame as it makes watching "That's Life" like being tossed around in a washing machine as it flits between drama and comedy.
The most annoying thing about this is that "That's Life" is so true when it comes to the story of a man who suddenly becomes so focussed on his life and his sudden realisation that he is getting old that he can't see the problems going on in the lives of those around him. It was director and writer Blake Edwards' talent, to create a story which is based on real life and "That's Life" could have been a really great observation on life is he hadn't tried to turn it into a comedy at the same time.
That leads me into a real conflict when it comes to the acting and I don't mean that "That's Life" seems to be a family affair with various relatives of Julie Andrews, Jack Lemmon and Black Edwards all involved in the movie. Nope what I mean is that for example take Jack Lemmon as Harvey, as a comedy performance it is great and the restaurant scene where he talks incessantly and then lectures the owner on how to cook lobster is magnificent but it doesn't fit with the observation of life, it is too funny, too much of a comedy performance. And Lemmon's full on performance jars with Julie Andrews' performance as Gillian who has the weight of the world on her shoulders as she deals with her fears in secret. In truth it feels like two actors in two different movies there is such a difference in the styles.
What this all boils down to is that "That's Life" will entertain; it is impossible not to enjoy Jack Lemmon in full comedic flow or Blake Edwards' observations on life. But unfortunately it is one of those movies where the parts don't quite come together to make a complete movie.