DVD - 2006
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An unhappily married socialite woman is trying to get through to a recently divorced doctor, who in his own words just wants to feel something.


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Jun 02, 2016

Intriguing sixties cult classic from iconoclast Richard Lester, the British director that brought us the Beatle films "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!," and (John Lennon, solo) "How I Won the War" as well as the delightful seventies update of the classic "The Three Musketeers" and its rousing sequel, "The Four Musketeers."
Filmed against the backdrop of 1967's so-called Summer of Love (there are cameo shots of Janis Joplin fronting Big Brother and the Holding Company and a startlingly young Jerry Garcia with The Grateful Dead), the offbeat "Petulia" is the saga of a strange, flighty San Francisco socialite (Julie Christie at her most winningly beautiful) who willfully pursues a romance with Archie, a recently divorced middle-aged doctor. George C. Scott gives one of his best performances, imbuing the weary Archie with dignity, wry humor and a guarded tenderness. Richard Chamberlain (late of the popular "Dr. Kildare" TV series) is effective as David, Petulia's troubled young husband; Joseph Cotten is excellent as David's wealthy and controlling father; and Shirley Knight is downright luminous as Archie's vulnerable, conflicted ex-wife.
Be forewarned that Lester uses the unusual storytelling technique of opening the movie in the middle and from there using flashback and flashforward scenes, giving us the story's beginning and conclusion at roughly the same time to reveal who these people are and where they are going.
"Petulia" is fascinating, maddening, and ultimately downbeat--but definitely worth your time.


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