Christopher Durang's off-Broadway play BEYOND THERAPY was a triumph, and Durang himself worked with director Robert Altman to bring it to the screen. The result is a truly remarkable film--beautifully played by a first-rate cast, quick paced, provocative, romantic, and very, very funny.
Unlike some Altman films, BEYOND THERAPY offers a traditional storyline. When Prudence and Bruce (Julie Hagerty and Jeff Goldblum) meet for a blind date the result is disasterous--not surprising, when Bruce casually notes that he is bisexual and living with lover Bob (Christopher Guest.) Prudence and Bruce rush back to their therapists (Tom Conti and Glenda Jackson, respectively) for advice... but their therapists are nuttier than they are, and soon they, Bob, Bob's mother Zizi (Genevieve Page), and the entire waitstaff of a French restaurant are dragged into the fray.
Durang's adaptation of his script is absolutely hilarious, and so many memorable lines ("My mother is NOT a transvestite!") bounce through the film that the effect--particularly when coupled with Altman's "wall of sound" audio style--is absolutely dizzying; the sound design is also memorable for the constant car crashes and china shattering that occurs in the background, a metaphor for collision of characters happening before our eyes. The entire cast is absolutely first rate (Hagerty, Goldblum, and Guest have never been better), and Altman guides them with a very sure hand.
Altman's vision always divides viewers: you either like his films or you do not. Although BEYOND THERAPY offers a relatively small cast in a cohesive story, it is actually one of Altman's most visually and aurally kaliediscopic films, and it is unlikely to convert those who find his style confusing and frustrating. But that said, this is a must-have film for any Altman fan, a truly enjoyable romantic comedy with a razor sharp script and a joyous style. A great shame that this VHS is out of print and there is no DVD release! Strongly, strongly recommended.
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