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Bernard and Doris

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Directed by Bob Balaban
Written by Hugh Costello
Starring Susan Sarandon
Ralph Fiennes
Music by Alex Wurman
Cinematography Mauricio Rubinstein
Editing by Andy Keir
Distributed by HBO Films
Release date(s) February 9, 2008
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States/United Kingdom
Language English

Bernard and Doris is a 2007 American television movie directed by Bob Balaban. The teleplay by Hugh Costello is a semi-fictionalized account of the relationship that developed between socialite heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke and her self-destructive Irish employee Bernard Lafferty later in her life.

The film premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 17, 2007 and was broadcast by HBO on February 9, 2008. It has been released on DVD.

Contents

Plot

In 1987, Doris Duke, considered the wealthiest woman in the world, hires Bernard Lafferty, who lists Elizabeth Taylor and Peggy Lee as former employers on his résumé, as her majordomo. He explains a six-month gap in his employment history was due to "health issues," a euphemism for time spent in rehab to deal with his addiction to alcohol. He assures Duke, who immediately suspects the truth, he is capable of performing his duties without any problems.

What starts strictly as an employer/employee situation slowly evolves into a more emotionally intimate but non-physical relationship as Lafferty begins to travel the world with Duke and cater to her every need. She suggests he shed his rigid demeanor and formal wardrobe and begin to dress more comfortably. Acknowledging his sexual preference for men, she encourages him to pierce his ear, grow his hair, and wear vivid colors.

Duke teaches Lafferty about horticulture, especially the care of orchids, and he takes control of the operation of her various households during her frequent long absences. As the two become closer and Lafferty becomes more relaxed, he begins to drink again, initially with discretion but eventually to an extent it begins to hinder his performance. Rather than dismiss him, as she always has dealt with employees who displeased her in the past, Duke has him committed for more rehab at her expense when he collapses in her bedroom.

Duke suffers a stroke and Lafferty returns to take full control of her life. In order to humor her, he wears her makeup, jewelry, and haute couture and begins to affect a more feminine demeanor. He tries to keep attorney and economic advisor Waldo Taft, who dislikes and distrusts Lafferty enough to have offered him $500,000 to leave his position in the past, away from the ailing woman. But there is no doubt he has no ulterior motives. Once asked by Duke what he expected from her, Lafferty had responded he wanted only to take care of her, an admission that had marked an important turning point in their relationship. Duke's faith and trust in him cannot be shaken, and before her death she appoints him executor of her massive estate. In his first meeting with her board of directors following her cremation, a now obviously effete Lafferty appears confident and in control. Three years later, we are told, he died from complications related to his alcoholism.

Production

Old Westbury Gardens served as the setting for Duke's Hillsborough Township, New Jersey estate known as Duke Farms.

Dominick Dunne and Calvin Trillin are seen briefly in cameo appearances as board members.

Principal cast

Critical reception

Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times likened the film to "the most delectable kind of Vanity Fair article, one that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty or venal or vaguely nuts for reveling in the particulars of great wealth even as you are made fully aware of all the isolating negatives." [1]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film a "stunner of a movie [that's] the hip antidote to multiplex junk such as Mad Money and Meet the Spartans. He added, "All praise to director Bob Balaban, who doesn't miss a beat or a nuance in bringing us in, close as a whisper, to what might have been." [2]

Brian Lowry of Variety called the film "a not-very-compelling two-character piece with showy moments for Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes but not much else to recommend it . . . What the movie does provide is a rare indulgence in long, quiet scenes between the leads, which serve both as a showcase for the actors and a reminder as to how undercooked the script is. For Sarandon, Doris is a slightly less shrewish version of the evil queen she just played in Enchanted, while Fiennes is a model of restraint . . . One can see why HBO would gamble on such a modest pickup based on the names attached. Still, much of what passed privately between employer and servant remains shrouded in mystery, and Bernard and Doris is ultimately unsatisfying in filling those gaps - real, imagined or otherwise." [3]

Awards and nominations

References

External links

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Bernard and Doris
File:Bernard and
Advertisement for the HBO broadcast
Directed by Bob Balaban
Written by Hugh Costello
Starring Susan Sarandon
Ralph Fiennes
Music by Alex Wurman
Cinematography Mauricio Rubinstein
Editing by Andy Keir
Distributed by HBO Films
Release date(s) February 9, 2008
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States/United Kingdom
Language English

Bernard and Doris is a 2007 American television movie directed by Bob Balaban. The teleplay by Hugh Costello is a semi-fictionalized account of the relationship that developed between socialite heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke and her self-destructive Irish employee Bernard Lafferty later in her life.

The film premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 17, 2007 and was broadcast by HBO on February 9, 2008. It has been released on DVD.

Contents

Plot

In 1987, Doris Duke, considered the wealthiest woman in the world, hires Bernard Lafferty, who lists Elizabeth Taylor and Peggy Lee as former employers on his résumé, as her majordomo. He explains a six-month gap in his employment history was due to "health issues," a euphemism for time spent in rehab to deal with his addiction to alcohol. He assures Duke, who immediately suspects the truth, he is capable of performing his duties without any problems.

What starts strictly as an employer/employee situation slowly evolves into a more emotionally intimate but non-physical relationship as Lafferty begins to travel the world with Duke and cater to her every need. She suggests he shed his rigid demeanor and formal wardrobe and begin to dress more comfortably. Acknowledging his sexual preference for men, she encourages him to pierce his ear, grow his hair, and wear vivid colors.

Duke teaches Lafferty about horticulture, especially the care of orchids, and he takes control of the operation of her various households during her frequent long absences. As the two become closer and Lafferty becomes more relaxed, he begins to drink again, initially with discretion but eventually to an extent it begins to hinder his performance. Rather than dismiss him, as she always has dealt with employees who displeased her in the past, Duke has him committed for more rehab at her expense when he collapses in her bedroom.

Duke suffers a stroke and Lafferty returns to take full control of her life. In order to humor her, he wears her makeup, jewelry, and haute couture and begins to affect a more feminine demeanor. He tries to keep attorney and economic advisor Waldo Taft, who dislikes and distrusts Lafferty enough to have offered him $500,000 to leave his position in the past, away from the ailing woman. But there is no doubt he has no ulterior motives. Once asked by Duke what he expected from her, Lafferty had responded he wanted only to take care of her, an admission that had marked an important turning point in their relationship. Duke's faith and trust in him cannot be shaken, and before her death she appoints him executor of her massive estate. In his first meeting with her board of directors following her cremation, a now obviously effete Lafferty appears confident and in control. Three years later, we are told, he died from complications related to his alcoholism.

Production

Old Westbury Gardens served as the setting for Duke's Hillsborough Township, New Jersey estate known as Duke Farms.

Dominick Dunne and Calvin Trillin are seen briefly in cameo appearances as board members.

Principal cast

Critical reception

Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times likened the film to "the most delectable kind of Vanity Fair article, one that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty or venal or vaguely nuts for reveling in the particulars of great wealth even as you are made fully aware of all the isolating negatives." [1]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film a "stunner of a movie [that's] the hip antidote to multiplex junk such as Mad Money and Meet the Spartans. He added, "All praise to director Bob Balaban, who doesn't miss a beat or a nuance in bringing us in, close as a whisper, to what might have been." [2]

Brian Lowry of Variety called the film "a not-very-compelling two-character piece with showy moments for Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes but not much else to recommend it . . . What the movie does provide is a rare indulgence in long, quiet scenes between the leads, which serve both as a showcase for the actors and a reminder as to how undercooked the script is. For Sarandon, Doris is a slightly less shrewish version of the evil queen she just played in Enchanted, while Fiennes is a model of restraint . . . One can see why HBO would gamble on such a modest pickup based on the names attached. Still, much of what passed privately between employer and servant remains shrouded in mystery, and Bernard and Doris is ultimately unsatisfying in filling those gaps - real, imagined or otherwise." [3]

Awards and nominations

References

External links


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