Peter's Friends

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Peter's Friends
Peter's Friends FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byKenneth Branagh
Produced byKenneth Branagh
Written byRita Rudner
Martin Bergman
StarringStephen Fry
Kenneth Branagh
Emma Thompson
Hugh Laurie
Imelda Staunton
Tony Slattery
CinematographyRoger Lanser
Edited byAndrew Marcus
Production
company
Distributed bySamuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates18 September 1992
Running time101 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$5 million
Box office$4,058,564 (US)
 
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Peter's Friends
Peter's Friends FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byKenneth Branagh
Produced byKenneth Branagh
Written byRita Rudner
Martin Bergman
StarringStephen Fry
Kenneth Branagh
Emma Thompson
Hugh Laurie
Imelda Staunton
Tony Slattery
CinematographyRoger Lanser
Edited byAndrew Marcus
Production
company
Distributed bySamuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates18 September 1992
Running time101 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$5 million
Box office$4,058,564 (US)

Peter's Friends is a 1992 British comedy-drama film written by Rita Rudner and her husband Martin Bergman, and directed and produced by Kenneth Branagh.

It starred Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Rita Rudner, Tony Slattery, Phyllida Law, Alex Lowe, and Alphonsia Emmanuel.

Plot[edit]

It is New Year's weekend and the friends of Peter (Fry) gather at his newly inherited country house. Ten years ago, they all acted together in a Cambridge University student comedy troupe. Since then they have gone in different directions and various career paths.

Peter's friends are Andrew (Branagh), now a writer in Hollywood; married jingle writers Roger (Laurie) and Mary (Staunton); glamorous costume designer Sarah (Emmanuel); and eccentric Maggie (Thompson), who works in publishing. Cast in sharp relief to the university chums are Carol (Rudner), the American TV star wife of Andrew; and loutish Brian (Slattery), Sarah's very recently acquired lover. Law plays Peter's disapproving housekeeper, Vera; and Lowe, her son Paul. Richard Briers appears in a cameo role as Peter's father.

Although the film is primarily a comedy, serious overtones are present from the beginning. Peter's father has died, and so Peter plans to sell the house after this last party. While Andrew and Carol's troubled marriage is played mainly for laughs, Roger and Mary are recovering from a devastating personal tragedy only slowly revealed to the audience. A lonely Maggie arrives determined to persuade Peter they should be more than just friends and Sarah's not as happy with her life as she appears. Meanwhile Peter is forced to break some heart-wrenching news to his friends.

The film deals with themes of friendship, marriage, fidelity, materialism, and coping with death and loss. It has often been described as a British The Big Chill.

Cast[edit]

Casting[edit]

Most of the cast are actually old university mates or have previously collaborated in other films. Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery attended Cambridge University and had been members of the Cambridge Footlights, a student comedy troupe similar to the one portrayed in the film, at the same time. Co-writer Martin Bergman (husband of co-writer/star Rita Rudner) also attended Cambridge and was also a member of the Footlights, albeit several years ahead of them.

Prior to filming, Fry and Laurie were already a successful double act with TV series A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. At the time the film was made, Branagh was married to Thompson, who had also dated Laurie during their university days. Phyllida Law is Thompson's mother and along with Richard Briers, Imelda Staunton and Alex Lowe appeared with Branagh and Thompson in Branagh's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing the following year. More than a decade later Fry, Law and Slattery would appear together in the ITV series Kingdom.

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack featured many artists from the 1980s, including Tears for Fears (whose song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was heard over the opening credits of the film), Eric Clapton, The Pretenders, and Bruce Springsteen.

The soundtrack album did not, however, feature the cast's rendition of the Jerome Kern standard "The Way You Look Tonight", as performed in the film nor the song, 'Orpheus on the Underground', by John Hudson, which features at the beginning and end of the film.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Peter's Friends grossed over $4 million in the United States.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Peter's Friends was well received by most critics and currently holds a 76% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2]

Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, described the film as "more or less predictable", but awarded it three-and-a-half stars, stating, "The structure of Peter's Friends is not blazingly original - The Big Chill comes instantly to mind - but a movie like this succeeds in its particulars. If the dialogue is witty, if the characters are convincingly funny or sad, if there is the right bittersweet nostalgia and the sense that someone is likely to burst into "Those Were the Days," then it doesn't matter that we've seen the formula before. This is a new weekend with new friends."[3]

Conversely, online critic James Berardinelli spoke poorly of the film, giving it two-and-a-half out of a possible four stars and stating, "At its best, Peter's Friends is warm, touching, and funny. At its worst, it's annoying and preachy. Fortunately, there are a few more moments in the former category than in the latter." While praising Branagh's direction and performances by the cast, Berardinelli attributed most of his discontent to the film's screenplay, concluding, "This is Branagh's worst effort to date and shows, if nothing else, that no matter how talented the director and his cast, he still needs a decent screenplay. And that, ultimately, is where Peter's Friends falls short."[4]

Accolades[edit]

Peter's Friends was nominated for a Goya Award and won two Evening Standard British Film Awards. It also ranked in eighth place on the National Board of Review's Top Ten 1992 films.

AwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
Evening Standard British Film AwardsBest ActressEmma ThompsonWon
Peter Sellers Award for ComedyKenneth BranaghWon
Goya AwardsBest European FilmKenneth BranaghNominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105130/business
  2. ^ "Peter's Friends". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (25 December 1992). "Peter's Friends". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Peter's Friends". ReelViews. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 

External links[edit]