OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Stan & Ollie

The untold story of the world's greatest comedy act.

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In 1953, several years after their last film and with their immense celebrity on the wane, Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy embark on a live tour of British seaside towns and music halls. Surprised by the modesty of the bookings and cramped little guesthouses, the two endure a subdued beginning to their tour. They struggle for audiences and their booking agent seems disinterested. But a series of tv guest spots and celebrity appearances soon rekindle the country’s interest in their genius and the buzz grows as they head towards a big London finale.

Poster for the Laurel & Hardy biopic Stan & OllieAs the attention builds, so too do old resentments, coming to a head as they’re joined by ‘the wives’, Lucille and Ida (Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, a hilarious double act in their own right).

Coogan and Reilly fans know their brilliance as physical comedians, but to watch them here is a revelation; they nail body language, mannerisms, and also routines the duo would have known in their sleep after decades performing together. Craft is sublime throughout, crystallized in a dazzling six-minute opening sequence captured by Laurie Rose’s camera team. Director Jon S. Baird (Filth) and screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena) offer a poignant study of lifelong male friendship, and a fitting tribute to two of cinema’s comedy giants.

– Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival

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