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Here Today Review: A Tearjerker Which Will Make You Smile!



Film Review - Here Today

Here Today

Starring: Billy Crystal, Tiffany Haddish

Directed  by  Billy Crystal

Rating: *** ½

It feels so  wonderful to  have  Billy Crystal back in  the saddle  as a  director.   This comic virtuoso  best remembered  for  what  he made Meg Ryan feel at a restaurant  in When Herry Met Sally, is  a talent of many shades. His brilliant comic timing and his ability to salvage a crisis, no matter how  grave, with humour is  so  remarkable that  we  tend to forget that real life  is far tougher than what it is  shown to be  in the movies.

Here Today  is  an uneven  but  extremely  heartwarming  script  about an aging  comedy writer Charles,for  long  employed by a studio that has  amply reaped the seasonal harvests  of  his comic genius. Now we can see  he has become somewhat redundant at his  workplace. At least that’s what the  younger colleagues whisper, though the studio boss will hear none  of  it.

On top of all this,  Charles  has begun to develop symptoms  of dementia. The forgetfulness is  at that stage where Charles can feel  himself forgetting things. Before oblivion overpowers his senses  there is work to be  done, words to be written before they(the words) begin to fade.

At this  very  critical  juncture of his life  Charles runs into  Emma(Tiffany Haddish), She  is black and feisty,hungry and thirsty  constantly  searching for a meaning for her existence as a lounge singer beyond the stage. Haddish, let me tell you, is  a riot.She  breezes  into Charles life lighting up the screen  like  a firecracker in Diwali, pinning down his approaching  illness as  an approaching storm,instilling a renewed confidence in Charles who is  badly shaken by impending catastrophe.

“Of course I  see the  humour of  my situation,” he tells  his  doctor(Anna Deavere Smith) who behaves as if she  decided  to moonlight as a medico in  the middle of a stand-up act.The film  brings together  humour and   a chance  to  revisit  some  of our  oldest neuroses  about aging and  dying, without wallowing  in schmaltz.Some  portions  of  the plot , like Emma breaking  into  Janis Joplin number at a  Bar Mitzvah, are cheesy  in their formulism .However the mood is always upbeat even when  circumstances threaten to weigh down Charles’s spirit.

The Crystal-Haddish chemistry is the USP of this  endearing dramedy. There is  no sex between them  and yet the chemistry  is palpable. The  other  young character who makes an impression on Crystal is  Darrel, a young earnest comedy writer , played by  Andrew Durand who has  the most unusual face since Adam Driver.  The actors  including the ones who play Charles’ family, are in this for  a life-changing experience. Here Today  doesn’t quite make  it to that level of   lucidity .But its grammar of  wisdom and mortality  is  impeccable.

Most of all, this  is  the wonderful Billy  Crystal’s opportunity to project  his own fears and insecurities  of aging  in a film that sparkles with  an emotional  transparency. There is a sequence  on a stage where Crystal is  being honoured  for his writing. The guests on stage are Sharon Stone, Kevin Kline  and director Barry Levinson. What  ensues can  only be described as  a comedy  of errors where Sharon Stone  gets to be Meryl Streep. Charles is  losing the  plot. That’s Crystal clear.

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