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About Schmidt


Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Warren Schmidt (Nicholson) has spent his entire working life with the same company as an actuary (think accountancy without the excitement), before retiring to be hen pecked by his wife who has a near obsessive desire to travel the states in their brand new mobile home.  Faced with trying to dissuade his daughter from marriage to a waterbed salesman (hilariously played by Dermot Mulroney), he begins to reflect on his own life and is not entirely comfortable with what he finds.

Schmidt ‘adopts’ a young African boy after seeing a television appeal and sends him regular money and letters detailing his life. This becomes a useful channel for communication of his emotions, as he confides in his young beneficiary thoughts that the audience would never otherwise determine. His naïve ignorance of the boy’s circumstances and the self obsessed nature of his letters provide many of the film’s lighter moments.

On first inspection, Nicholson, as the central actor, does very little. Like his character he is understated, repressed (and depressed), showing little emotion. It is difficult to think of another actor who could have turned in such a subtle, understated performance, and yet totally steal the show from such a capable supporting cast.

There is plenty of humour, both from Schmidt and the other characters, some of it farcical, much of it at Schmidt’s expense. Yet, although you openly laugh at Schmidt’s pathetic but all too human response to his problems, you end up feeling empathetic, and guilty at your earlier amusement. It’s not a feel good film, but neither is it ultimately depressing, in fact it’s difficult to sum it up at all. It’s real.

Stuart Jarvis

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)