Death Of A Ladies Man, For The Leonard Cohen/Gabriel Byrne Fan

Death Of  A  Ladies Man

Starring Gabriel Byrne,Jessica Paré,Brian Gleeson

Directed  by Matt Bissonnette

Rating: ** ½

 Canadian director Matt Bisonnette’s  obsession with  the music of   the legendary Leonard Cohen is well-known among  movie  buffs. What is not so well-known is  his  determination  to introduce Cohen’s  music into  nearly every film that he makes. This time it’s  like two legends being honoured at the same time. 

There  is , of course, the music of Cohen that carpets the dark tale  of  a fall and a redemption. The songs appear  with the  imperativeness  that we saw in Mama Mia where the  reason  d’etre  was   the music of Abba .Death  Of  A Ladies  Man is  much more serious stuff. It stars  the Irish legend Gabriel Byrne returning to form after long as a  man so drunk in his own fame  and fortune that he  forgets to connect with those  who matter, his son, who  wants to tell Dad he ‘s gay,  for one,   and  his daughter,who wants  her  father to know  she’s unhappy. For  another.

 But does Samuel  O’Shea care?A  rude wakeup call in the form of  a cancer  diagnosis(really, death and  disease  can be so predictable  in the movies)  sends  Samuel reeling and stumbling back to his roots in  Ireland(fetchingly  photographed nu Jonathan Cliff)  where he  has his first meaningful relationship in a long time  with a  beautiful shop owner  (Jessica  Pare) who may  or not exist outside  Samuel’s hallucinatory hemisphere.

All this  sounds  far better in theory than  it is  in execution.  The film look at Samuel’s  life coming undone in a series  of  illustrative vignettes which are far  less interesting to watch than they should be. In the  beginning we see  Samuel  barging  in on his cheating wife. He  decides  to divorce her and move on …. Where to, is the  question.

Samuel’s  tired  jaded decadent life allows  him to go nowhere he  really wants  to. The deadend  feeling is well-projected  by Byrne who is  every inch the emotionally and physically washed-out trainwreck  of a man.  It is clear that man, a writer  with a  block  in his head(literally!)   has not  bothered to keep up  with  his  relationships.

When he  gets  to  know he is ill, Byrne’s  Samuel  makes belated redemptive  moves, alas  marred  by  his medical condition which makes  Samuel  ‘see’ women with  tiger’s heads(I kid you  not) and facilitates an ongoing conversation with his  dead  father(Brian Gleeson).

 Death Of  A  Ladies Man is a  film that  never quite takes off. It has its eyes set on a high moral  ground where  it  never quite reaches. Maybe  it’s  the protagonist’s failure to  do so. Because as  an actor Gabriel Byrne certainly  never fails to play the failure with ferocious passion.

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