Occasionally a cinematic oddity surfaces which leads audiences to ask, was this film actually enjoyable?
The Canadian/Irish co-production Death Of A Ladies’ Man is quietly humorous, bizarre, and placid viewing, but unquestionably belongs in this category.
Sam (Gabriel Byrne) has been an alcoholic womaniser most of his life when he suddenly commences having strange hallucinations such as waitresses with tiger’s heads, the city under fire from prehistoric flying creatures, and rugged ice hockey players suddenly becoming ice skating angels.
What is going on? Is he ‘batshit crazy, crazier, or more fucked up than he previously thought?’ If only – he’s been diagnosed with an inoperable grade 4 brain tumour and only has 12 months to live.
With the aid of his father’s ghost, he reflects upon his life. Why did his mother leave him? Why was he such a questionable father hurting the people in his life who he loved most? If only he’d done things differently and hadn’t been such a ‘selfish alcoholic asshole!’
In the time he has left, Sam follows his dream of writing a novel – success follows, but what dire and unexpected consequences does this bring to the man who has finally made amends in his life?
Original in execution, but it’s difficult to feel anything but numbness in the finale, owing to the lack of emotional connection audiences may experience towards this tragic character, brought upon by the fanciful hallucinations and dispensable musical numbers.
Themes of love, loss, family relationships, and following that all-important dream resonate, but the film ultimately underwhelms.