160 - Being There - 4 stars
A very sweet and charming film where talk of gardening becomes a philosophical view on the world.
Peter Sellers is tremendous in a straight role that tempers his usual humour in his performance of Chance, or Chancey Gardener.
This is Sellers' Forrest Gump, as Chance is very innocent and simple-minded. His only interaction and education coming from his love of gardening and television.
Chance lived a very isolated life, working as a gardener for an old man, never leaving the house. Forced out onto the streets following his death, a chance (ha ha) meeting leads him to stay with an old, dying businessman and his younger wife.
They mistake his comments on gardening as a philosophy on business and the economy, and becomes a surprising political figure when his comments are quoted by The President:
President "Bobby": Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President "Bobby": In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President "Bobby": Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
President "Bobby": Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time. [Benjamin Rand applauds]
President "Bobby": I admire your good, solid sense. That's precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.
There are several interesting touches and moments that could threaten to upset the balance of the film; the use of a funky version of Also Sprach Zarathustra from 2001, the scene where Shirley Maclaine misinterprets Chance's declaration that "I like to watch" and results in Maclaine masturbating for him while he watches TV, and the end moment where Chance appears to walk on water... but director Hal Ashby manages to make them all work perfectly.
What doesn't work however is having the film spoiled by the 'outtakes' over the end credits, which break the spell of the previous 2 hours.
P.S. Two cast members from The Thing appear- spot Copper and Palmer in small roles.
Days remaining -76 Films remaining - 76