Filmhounds Magazine

All things film – In print and online

Death of a Ladies’ Man (Film Review)

3 min read

Looking back at your life and realising all the mistakes you've made, the people you've hurt and thinking about the way things could have been is often seen in cinema as a way to start the end of a journey. Samuel O'Shea's (played by ) journey is coming to an end and instead of embracing changes and excepting the inevitable, he tries to ignore his fate and finds ways to numb the pain. With a charismatic actor such Byrne at the helm of the story, there is a shining light but it is just flicker as the film is over crowded with notions of regret and nostalgia that ultimately brings this story to a depressing low point throughout.

University professor Samuel feels as if he is loosing his mind. On the brink of divorce from his second wife and feeling sorry for himself, he rarely pays much attention to his now grown up son and daughter. He continues his self indulgent ways even after learning that he has a tumour and given months to live. Wanting to write a book before the end, he takes himself off to his childhood home, but even this is not enough. Eventually he tries to make amends with his family, guided all the way by the ghost of his father.

As Samuel's state of mind slowly gets worse, we see his odd unexplained visions throughout the film, but it's the ghost of his father that is the clearest and wisest. The conversations he has with him about the past and the present are most poignant and heartfelt. His father's comments on his behaviour carry the most weight, rather than the moments he shares with his children. This could be a character flaw or that Samuel has been carrying childhood trauma (the death of his father) for all his years and has never really known how to cope. But other than this, Samuel's spiral into oblivion is only stopped with the realisation that his daughter, who is just like him, she says so, is suffereing with her own addictions and cannot help herself. The plot on the whole is murky yet simple but never really holds an emotional punch or big revelation, the film has nothing new to say.

 

Director , like his previous films, is heavily influenced by Leonard Cohen, using his music, mentions of his work throughout and even naming the film after one of his albums. The bittersweet dance sequence near the end of the film set to his music is uplifting and hopefully. It is the only hope that we get to see throughout the film, except maybe the penultimate moment before the cruel sudden climax. The dance is important as it shows that no matter how awful a situation is or seems to be, you can emerge and start again.

Ultimately, Death of a Ladies' Man is for a certain audience that enjoys miserable older men lamenting their life choices. There is only so much of a self destroying character you can watch before you need to take a break, as you'll end up looking back at your own regrets. No need to watch with caution but just be aware of your state of mind before diving in.

Death of a Ladies' Man is out now across all digital platforms