About Schmidt ★★★★½


Dear Ndugu,

How are you? I'm fine. Today I watched the film About Schmidt. I enjoyed it. At times I feared it was just a less inspired take on The Straight Story, with a score that went too jaunty too often, and a tendency to undercut its many truthful moments with smug comedy. But then the ending came along, one of the greatest endings I've ever seen, a heartbreaking voiceover followed by a heart-mending pay-off, and I realised that I'd seen something truly extraordinary, a film whose flaws are a small price to pay for a majestic, life-affirming whole. And then there was Nicholson's performance. It's so long since he bothered to act - I suppose One Flew Over must have been the last time - that I was willing him to succeed. And, yes, there were ticks and twitches there, and at times he hadn't quite submerged arrogant, shark-faced Jaaack within self-hating, sad-faced Warren (me), but in the end it was a triumph, just like the movie. Along with the usual cheque, I'm enclosing a little something extra to spend as you please.

Yours very truly,

Warren Schmidt

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