The late director of The Dresser, it seems, has a great love of theater. He also appears to have an interest in Borderline Personalities. The movie has the amplified acting and general feel of a stage play and provides us with one of the most annoying characters in some time: the peculiarly named Sir, played by the great British performer Albert Finney.
Sir is dramatic, narcissistic, and generally a pain in the whoseits whatits. "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do!" He bellows at a moment when he feels especially wronged. Appropriately, he's also an actor.
Behind every jackass there's a victim of their jackasserie, and though Sir's antics cause much unrest, the main victim in question is Norman, played by Tom Courtenay, who works for him, cares for him, and may also be in love with him.
As Sir's "dresser" and make-up artist, Norman puts up with Sir's Borderline schtick daily. (Norman's name puts me in mind of the classic Norman Bates. "A boy's best friend is his mother," I announced while watching, but my mom didn't get it.)
Together, Sir and Norman are part of a theatrical group performing Shakespeare in war torn London, England during World War II. Sir has little or no sympathy for the victims of the war, preferring instead to dwell on his own ego and suffering.
Sir's rants are irritating yet strangely amusing, while Norman is sympathetic, but slightly WEIRD at times. Norman, who is so effeminate he could have come out of Roger De Bries' crew in "The Producers" (not a criticism, just an observation) is not short on funny quips, and this and Sir's frenetic acting out give the film a kind of black comedy quality.
It is, however, a serious film st heart, as Norman becomes increasingly lonely and put out at Sir's rambling,. The acting seems at times to be a little in your face, though ultimately one can't complain. Norman's homosexual interests are implied rather than shown, so fans of hot gay sex scenes can look elsewhere.
Ultimately, the viewer feels for Norman, and if they are a better person than me, for Sir, who becomes convinced of his own impending demise. It is mostly well-acted, often funny, and intriguing for people interested in the historical aspects of homosexuality.