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:: About Schmidt

It is clear to see why this film deservedly won Jack Nicholson a best Actor Golden Globe and won its screenwriters Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne (director) best screenplay awards. It is simply one of Nicholson’s best performances as the portrayal of Warren Schmidt, a man reaching the twilight of his years forced into retirement from years of service as a V.P. of an Insurance Agency.

As he begins to adjust to the boredom of watching T.V. and dilly-dallying to the local store, he decided to sponsor an African child, Ndugu. The letters he sends Ndugu form the structure of the film as these letters detail the boredom, frustration and dissatisfaction he feels with his life including the annoyance he holds toward his wife, Helen. Shortly thereafter he faces yet another huge loss, Helen passes away unexpectedly and in another letter to Ndugu calculates the probability of years he had left to live after the passing of a spouse and loss of employment. Schmidt faces the discovery of his best friend and wife having had an affair years ago and the disapproval of his daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) and dim wit boyfriend Randall Hertzel’s (Dermot Mulroney) impending marriage.

Not knowing what to do with himself Schmidt decides to take his Winnebago on the road and see what adventures life has to offer him.
Between his short lived friendship with a young couple and his visit to his childhood home and his daughter’s wedding, Schmidt continues his correspondence with Ndugu sharing his observations and feelings about his adventure, which provides no immediate relief or answers.
Feeling defeated upon his return home, a letter from Ndugu changes him and forces a realisation that he has made a difference.

This beautifully written screenplay rests entirely on Nicholson’s brilliant performance, his ability to convey such loss and emotion in the simplest gestures and looks. The moving scenes where he finds himself completely alone after Helen’s death, draping himself in whatever trace of her he can find, expresses such profound loss and sadness that is a rare find in Hollywood movies today. Coupled with the scenes where Schmidt’s panic and awkwardness provide hilarious results upon his visit to Randall’s mother Roberta’s (Kathy Bates) house before the wedding.

As Nicholson stated on acceptance of his award at the Globes, “I though this movie was a comedy” it may have been intended that way, however his acting abilities in About Schmidt far outstretched the confines of a comedy,
reaching way beyond.

Screening at the Rivoli Cinemas, Cinema Europa, George Cinemas, Cinema Nova, Classic Cinemas, and Dendy Brighton