Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Servant (1963) Directed by Joseph Losey


Written by Harold Pinter, this film is about the class struggle in British society. The 4 main characters are a rich guy, his girlfriend, the manservant he hires and his girlfriend who he introduces to the household as his sister so she can get work as a maid. The rich guy, Tony is an alcoholic and basically an asshat. To be honest, the entire cast is playing unlikeable people to various degrees. As the story moves forward the manservant (Hugo Barrett played by Bogarde) reverses the boss/servant role and takes over and gleefully ruins the life of Tony.

Everyone gets their turn to be the bad guy in this movie and it's fascinating in many ways to see how low they all go and what they put up with from each other. The filming is pretty interesting as well. The images are super clear with no depth of field and much of the action is filmed from behind things, through things, reflected in mirrors and at odd angles. 

If you are looking for any sort of resolution, stop doing that, there isn't any. In a way it's a slice of life sort of thing and end with Tony passed out and Barrett still in charge. That can't last forever, one's money can't last forever and they will all be out in the cold I suspect. 

While everyone in the film is cold hearted, Tony is the biggest jerk in that it's his fault he let it get to the extremes it does but he hardly elicits any more sympathy than the other characters. There is a STRONG homeotic vibe, especially after Barrett takes things over but it is never specifically addressed. 

So it's not for everyone and very much a product of its time but I think worth a watch. 


T' said...

I've seen this! I think I was in art school at the time and I remembered the title wrong. I thought it was called, "The Butler." Interesting film. I remember liking the idea of the butler and his boss switching places more or less but do remember it didn't really end. It's a bit experimental, but I remember it being good. Cool beans!

Behemoth media said...

See my films are tastes are not weird t all! You watched this too! OK that might not mean my film tastes aren't weird but Im not alone at least! It sort of just stops instead of ending, I had never seen it before we watched it a couple weekends ago. I thought it was VERY 60s in the dialogue and the energy of it.