The Razor's Edge (1984) Poster

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One of my all-time faves
rickbkis3 March 2004
I was prepared to hate this movie, when I first rented it. It was a 'curiosity pick': I liked the title, I didn't have anything else in mind, and my thought was, of course, "Bill Murray!?"

It turned out to be one of my all-time favorite movies in the 'character-transformation' genre.

It's a compelling story of choices in life and how those choices affect or disaffect perceptions of that life. Murray is perfection in this role, because we seem him change from something we recognize to something quite different. It is a palpable and comprehensible transformation - the movie draws us in, it allows us to change with him.

The rest of the characters are well cast and provide definitive counterpoint to the protagonist - the bon-vivant aristocratic uncle Elliot who simply lives his life appreciatively, the unthinking and manipulative Isabel concerned only with her own comforts and social standing, the uncertain Sophie that allows her uncertainty to trap and destroy her, the practical yet contemplative Raaz who challenges Darrell's notion of things, constructively, and leads him to further his quest. Good character development, all around.

Finally, I was impressed with the faithfulness to the book. It's difficult for a movie to be that, and still be an watchable movie.
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I have to disagree
rshendri23 March 2005
I have to say that the first time I saw the movie, I was about five years old and saw it in a movie theatre. But as young as I was, it had a deep impression on me. I could not forget it, and by chance, received a copy of it as a gift my first year of college. It was so much better than I remembered...Although it is a bit different from Maugham's original book, I would (and have) highly recommended it to anyone. I realize I'm probably the only person in the world who thinks this movie is so absolutely incredible, but there is so much about it that stands out to me. Besides the bit of eastern philosophy that is thrown in, I am truly in love with the portrayal of the time period and the love triangle(square, rectangle) between Larry, Isabelle, Sophie, and Gray. I think I have seen this movie about 1000 times, and look forward to watching it 1000 more.
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Hey, I loved it!
artzau10 May 2001
The remarks of the detractor in this array of reviews is confusing and confused. Look. I read Maugham's book in the late 40s and saw the Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb film. So what? This film was neither one but that's beauty of art, dudes. It doesn't have to. The Razor's Edge is an odyssey of a man in search of himself. The transit nature of life and the brutality of war turn him into a "superfluous" man, who goes off on a quest to find himself. We can inundate this issue with metaphors until the cows come home, but that's Maugham's story. Old Somerset, a closet homosexual who was a volunteer in the horrorific WW1 went through a similar transformation and in a way, this novel, which he began back in the 20s, reflects that journey. Murray takes the character of Larry Darrell into a new domain. Why shouldn't he? He's not Tyrone Power. He's a comedian who plays a tragic role straight. There is much in this film that makes it superior to the 40s version. A stronger statement of the tragedy of the entanglement of the two women and a more intense presentation of the character of Larry. I saw this film when it first aired and recalled a young high school kid remarking to a friend upon exiting, "Man, this is a totally awesome movie." I agree. Alas, the critics and comedy-addicted Murray fa ns didn't and it flopped. Pity. It is a totally awesome movie.
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A truly epic film - that flopped at the box office
pschlehr15 May 2005
This is one of my favorite films of all-time. Bill Murray is excellent as the lead in a dramatic movie, much to my surprise. I think his performance in this film is every bit as good as his work in "Lost in Translation." Murray is far more flexible as an actor than he usually demonstrates or is given credit for. He is more than just a comedian.

The failure of this movie at the box office rests squarely on the shoulders of Paramount. They gave this movie so little support or advertising money that it was almost doomed to fail. To be honest, if the internet and IMDb had existed back then, the coast to coast word of mouth that could have been generated might have made this movie a winner at the box office.

There is a story about this movie that I once heard. Murrary had read the book and the script by Byrum, who also directed. Murrary approached the studio and told them he wanted to make this movie. The story goes that they respond with, "Sure, Bill, we'll make The Razor's Edge for you if you will make this little movie called Ghostbusters for us." He agreed and Paramount technically stuck to the deal, but they put no money into its promotion and it dead an untimely death.

This is one of the great films of all-time and it is just a shame that more people have not seen it.
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Very well done
DaCritic-229 November 1999
This adaptation of Somerset Maugham's novel is wonderful in so many ways. The dialogue is well written, the actors and actresses involved are excellent and believable in their roles, and the screenplay is spiritually faithful to the novel.

Theresa Russel is a gem in this movie, as the troubled Sophie, but it is Bill Murray's portrayal of Larry that truly stands out here ... mainly because, as far as I know, this is his only non-comedic role.

One of the best movies I've seen!
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A Truly Exceptional Movie and All Time Favorite
michael_russell17 June 2001
If you are an intelligent viewer who is looking for a significant and possibly mind expanding movie event then `The Razor's Edge' is for you. It has remained one of my favorite films for fifteen years, and I have owned it and replayed it many times. If you look at the viewer feedback for this film you will find that the vast majority of people rate is as `Excellent' movie (29% of IMDB viewers give it a perfect `10/10' rating). Those who fail to see it's qualities can be divided fairly equally into the `don't get it' camp (Unlike the typical Hollywood lowest denominator flicks, the minimum IQ for viewing is Razor's Edge is probably at least 100, and that leaves ½ the population out), and the `disappointed' crowd, who have so typecast the star (Bill Murray) that they wanted `Caddyshack' and just can't allow him to be a serious actor. You must set aside your prejudices and give the man a chance-Bill Murray is a Harvard grad who co-wrote the screenplay-this was a labor of love for him. Just because he has a sense of humor does NOT make him a lightweight, as this film demonstrates for anyone with the eyes to see it.

Based upon the 1942 W. Somerset Maugham novel, it follows the evolution of a spoiled upper class boy from Illinois (Larry, Bill Murray), who volunteers to be an ambulance driver in WW I for a little `fun and adventure' and instead gets a dose of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). His world was forever changed by the events he experienced. He literally could not go home again after the war. He tried, and found the lives of those around him to be shallow and meaningless, and their pursuits and interests just trivial. There had to be a reason why he was here, and this sets the stage for the real point of the movie, which is an exploration of the meaning of life. (I told you it wasn't Caddyshack!)

Obsessed with these existential issues, and finding that alcohol did not make the need go away, Larry travels to Paris, and starts to read, serious books on philosophy and religion, supporting himself as a laborer. He does not care much for his surroundings-his lack of materialism is in marked contrast to his peers and friends from before, whose dreams are to grow wealthy in the stock market. As such Larry was an early Bohemian. I found this particularly poignant, realizing as I watched this movie that it foreshadowed yet another stock market boom and bust: a whole new generation of crass materialists have had their world was just as rocked by a stock market crash in 1999 as in 1929. History does repeat, and these themes are timeless. His fiancee could not deal with his `common' friends and lack of modern plumbing, and left him to marry someone she did not love but who had money. Another contrast to the shallow and materialistic, which is a recurring theme throughout the film-what brings happiness to a man?

Larry's journey took him to India, and Hindu religion, and then on to Tibet to discover Buddha-the scenes filmed there are absolutely breathtaking, so I hope you can find a letterbox laserdisc or they finally bring this out on DVD-it is worth it to see the whole screen. There is romance, and love, and loss. I won't reveal the ending, which is truly bittersweet, and a bit nihilistic. This is truly the best thing this fine actor ever accomplished, and I rate it a strong `10'. This should have won many awards, and should also be considered a true classic; I am disappointed in my fellow man that they so typecast the star that they could not see what a great contribution he made with this effort here. Not light fare, and a long film, but one worth seeing.
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Very enjoyable film - good pace/feel/look/ideas.
moore10414 May 2004
"The Razor's Edge" is based on a novel of the same title.

"The Razor's Edge" takes place over at least a decade, moving from the midwestern U.S to WWI in Europe to Paris and what might be Tibet and back to Paris again. It's a nice film to look at, as the period and place production really sucks one into the story, and has what I thought of as a cozy pacing, but what some might think drags on a little (it was a great, alone-on-a-rainy-Sunday, laying-on-the-couch rental for me).

The film does a good job of playing ideas with scenes, and playing the ideas/scenes off of seemingly drastically different ones, from the barren emptiness of a battlefield to the uplifting emptiness of the Himalayas, to the warm loneliness of a Paris café, to the cold loneliness of a rich man's death bed.

This is obviously a true labor of love for Bill Murray. He nails his character and the ideas the script attempts to channel through his character's development. Hopefully, now that somehow people can "accept" Bill Murray as not "just" an overtly comedic actor (with the success of "Lost in Translation") people will be more open to enjoying this very good film.
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Virtually unimprovable - 10+++
delphivagi11 August 2002
Those who don't get it are perhaps the most enlightened of us all: that is exactly what this amazing movie was all about. In the end Larry's search was fruitless. No book, no bottle, no friend could provide the answer because it did not exist. Life, meaning, purpose, all of these things were succinctly, artfully and convincingly tossed aside as incidental, even distracting to the true meaning of life, which is nothingness.

Hopefully that's not too disarming, because the film is simply one of the best ever made (top ten? certainly.). It was an almost incalculable improvement over the 1946 version, which was truly awful. Murray did not preach, he showed by example, whereas the early version was like a post-WWII government instructional film on how to attain karma. Murray's performance was so subtle as even to be missed all together (in my opinion the best acting of all), whereas Power was begging you to see the light.

Please, don't miss this film, and if you don't "get it" first time around, empty your mind of distracting clutter and see it again. See it fifty times if you have to. When the message finally does come through, you'll know it was worth it.
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One of my all time favorites
etherdog26 August 2002
Bill Murray produced something he really wanted to do, and it shows! This is a wonderful, true-to-the-book film about how life is not the destination, it is the journey! Wonderful cinematography, great story by Somerset Maugham, and brilliant acting all around. Look for the scene of "Sophie" in the hospital trying to explain what her loss is like. This is one of the best scenes in all of cinema.
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This is the one...
thebishop219 October 2000
that proves Bill Murray can really act and is not just a comedian.

Unfortunately, it also didn't do well because his regular fans weren't ready for this transformation.

If you like Bill Murray and aren't afraid of drama, check it out. It's very deep and will change your mind about Murray, even if it's already favorable.
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This razor's edge isn't sharp enough
jjnxn-11 April 2014
Elegant but facile version of the Maugham novel, a passion project for Murray who is good in parts of the film but flat in others. On it's own an okay film hampered by over-length but compared to the Tyrone Power/Gene Tierney original, which has its own problems, it's a pale shadow. A good deal of the fault for that lies in both the direction and the performances. The general ennui of the performances may in fact be laid at the director's feet. All are capable actors as they've shown elsewhere but here be it a mismatch of actor/actress and part or lack of direction most founder.

Theresa Russell does the film's best work but even her Sophie is missing the bruised sorrow that made Anne Baxter's take on the part so compelling and won her the Oscar for best supporting actress. James Keach evaporates from the screen in a rather thankless role that John Payne managed to make an impression in with a show of quiet strength. Surprisingly the weakest of the star spots is Catherine Hicks, usually a very fine actress, adrift in her part. She exudes a warm presence on screen totally wrong for the heartless, mindlessly cruel Isabel that Gene Tierney playing with an icy edge made vivid.

A good try but only average.
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A Dreamer's Story
kbean6627 April 2004
I saw this movie when it was released in 1984. Being a big Bill Murray fan drew me to it and the story did the rest. It was my first year in college and I dreamed of running away with nothing but some books and a canvas bag. I dreamed vicariously through this movie for awhile. Who hasn't wanted to travel the world anonymously? It is the essence of life, the secret to life, that is held in the dream that Mr. Murray must have had at some point in his lifetime that drove him to make this movie.

For all you naysayers out there: Movies don't have to be perfect. Some can be appreciated for the trash quality (Wild Things), some for crassness (Something About Mary), and others for a single scene (Saving Private Ryan). This movie is for dreamers who don't give a fck what everyone else is doing.
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A True Test Film
bwelch3314 October 2002
This is one of those films that defines the difference between a "film" and a "movie". Maugham, in print form, often drags; Murray's senses of humor and timing eschew that hurdle and make a beautiful story of growth and epiphany accessible in just two short hours.

The "test" aspect for me here is simple and a bit autocratic, if not downright arrogant as Hell; I don't want to know well anyone who does not appreciate this film.
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How did this fail..
party16 February 1999
The supposed 'straight' role that Bill Murray performed in this adaptation of the novel by the same name is why it failed. On the back of Stripes and then Ghostbusters, people found it hard to accept the deadpan face of Murray fronting a movie examining belief systems and the meaning of life.

The screenplay charts the spiritual and philosophical growth of Larry Darrell (Murray) as he begins to question the materialist world building up around him. Darrell's search within takes him across the globe through many different scenarios, and Murray adds a welcome dose of humanity and - to be quite frank humour, as he treads the path to salvation.

The novel by Somerset Maugham is an excellent read, and its not that the performance of Murray detracts from, or belittles the plight of Darrell, rather it enhances it.
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An Under-appreciated Masterpiece
ubugarb2 February 2006
This is one of the most under-appreciated films of the last 20 years. I think people didn't know what to expect from "funny man" Bill Murry. This was the first glimpse of the dramatic actor that we now know as Bill Murry. The story is rich with connections to our own lives of what we want out of life and struggle to find. It depicts the evolution of innocents to the realities of the real world. This movie will make you think, laugh and cry. When I saw this film in 1984 I was in shock by the honesty and bluntness of the story. I was surprised by the unfavorable reviews that it received. But they had a negative result in discouraging a lot of people from seeing the film. It is a shame that such a good story and fine performances were not seen by as many people. They missed out. If you have not seen this Film. I highly recommend you take the time to view this wonderful story. If you have ever tried to read the original text and gave up as I did do to to the difficult style you will appreciate the smooth and logical story telling in the film. It will make you appreciate your life and all the you have to be thankful for.
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One of the best ignored films I've seen
travisrose27 July 2001
I rented this movie strictly because Bill Murray was in it. He's always been one of my favorite comic actors. After seeing The Razor's Edge, my view of him changed forever. As much as I enjoyed his work before and after this film, his career development appears stunted.

In this film, Murray is brilliant and convincing as Larry Darrow, a man searching for his soul's peace, after a brutal event "awakened" him from his posh aristocratic life.

Murray is a comic genius, but his abilities as a dramatic actor have been woefully underused.
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Razor's Edge vs. Eat, Pray, Love
tergenev16 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This film is at least structurally similar to the recent film 'Eat, Pray, Love' with Julia Roberts. They both focus on an individual who sort of runs away from their life, travels, and attempts to find more meaning in their lives.

Personally, the source material gives A Razor's Edge an unfair advantage. But listening to my own criticisms of Eat, Pray, love, I had to think back to one of my own personal favorite films, the Bill Murray version of The Razor's Edge. Some have argued that the Maugham novel was far better than the film, but I disagree. I've read the Maugham novel. I saw the movie. I prefer the film, though I liked them both a great deal.

The themes of the novel are there in the film, but the movie chooses to focus on the themes through Larry's story rather than through Uncle Elliot's. The novel focuses most of the time telling Elliot Templeton's life, with this strange bird Larry floating in and out of the scene from time to time. They are both characters on journeys seeking meaning. They both find what they need to find at the end, and it isn't what they set out to find in the beginning.

The reason I love this story, no matter which way it's told, is that it fundamentally understands reality in a way that the current rendition ('Eat, Pray, Love') does not. Life is not always going to be pretty, and certainly not just because you have some sort of higher 'mission' to find true meaning in your life. The bad people in A Razor's Edge end up being so much more reprehensible than those in Eat, Pray, Love, and yet you end up hating the lead character in the latter film oh so much more for being so banal. (Isabel is one of the truly evil creatures in literature. Liz is just a thinly veiled version of the author, who naturally can't see that she's vile.) The themes of the two stories? The Razor's Edge, both versions, is truly a student of existential philosophy, "The only meaning, the only reward, in life is the experience you have in living it." Eat, Pray, Love, on the other hand, is a child of excess whose only message seems to be, "It doesn't matter who you hurt along the way as long as you feel good in the end." There is a certain self-indulgence required in this sort of 'journey of self-discovery' tale. But no one can really say that Larry didn't pay for going on his journey. Maybe it's just as self-indulgent that he did so, but I ended up truly liking and admiring Larry at the end of his journey. Liz, and I cannot really waffle on this primordial instinct, most totally deserves the destined place she has reserved in the 3rd circle of Hell (Gluttony), with an occasional weekend spent in the 7.3.3 circle of Hell (Violence against Art).
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Truly a line as hard to walk as a Razor's Edge
ThatMOVIENut5 December 2014
The second adaptation of the iconic novel, this Bill Murray centric- version follows him as Larry, an early 20th century socialite who ends serving as an ambulance driver in WW1. Marked by this experience, he distances himself from the high life in America and begins a global search for life's meaning, from the mines of Britannia to the mountains of Tibet.

Beautifully mounted, the 80s 'Razor's Edge' assembles a lot of great components, yet never fully meets expectation. From a writing standpoint, this is down to the inciting incident that leads to Larry's soul search: it just isn't well developed enough. The WW1 segment isn't very long, and you don't really get the impression that Larry is scarred or shocked by it. What's more, they try to have him have this relationship with his officer, Piedmont (played by Brian Murray), but the screen time they do share sees them more at odds or Larry being bewildered by the brashness of Piedmont. Why does his death matter so much to Larry? As a byproduct of this one misfire, it weakens everything else in the story, and makes Larry's journey not feel as powerful or weighty as it so badly needs to be.

This is a genuine shame that they got this one key element wrong, as everything else is top notch. It's very well filmed, especially thanks to its international, on location backdrop. The stuff up in the Himalayas in particular is pretty spectacular. Performances are also of a similar calibre; for his first straight role, old Bill isn't half bad. Sometimes he can be a little rigid, but for the most part, his dryness and friendly demeanour compensate. He is joined by the likes of Catherine Hicks, Theresa Russell and James Keach, who all add solid work. And finally, Jack Nitzsche's score; very elegant, and though it mainly relies on a recurring motif of strings that sounds very similar to Morricone's 'Time of Destiny', it actually works rather well and is genuinely moving.

In the end, 'Razor's Edge' is an ambitious failure, but not a boring or indulgent one at least. For Murray fans, it's an intriguing little curio and an important step in his development.
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a great film
jjg_202023 January 2005
Bill Murray does a great job as both an actor and writer for this film. It's amazing! Bill can be both a comedic and a dramatic actor! Who'd a thunk it!

Having watched both the original and this remake numerous times, I believe Bill Murray brings an interesting variation to the main role over Tyrone Power.

Watch this film many times.

You'll grasp it's deep meaning.

(Read the book as well ... it always helps!)

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"The path to salvation is narrow and is difficult to walk as a razor's edge."
TxMike16 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"The Razor's Edge" is Bill Murray's first serious movie. Until this one he was best remembered as a goofball in movies like Caddyshack and Stripes, or a comedian in Ghostbusters. "Edge" was made a full nine years before his best dramatic role as Phil in the superb 1993 film, "Groundhog Day." I like "Edge" very much because it takes the time to develop the characters, and examines Larry's quest to find "the meaning of life" after his WWI experiences.

some SPOILERS follow, you may not want to read any further if you have not yet seen "The Razor's Edge."

The film begins outdoors at the Lake Forest, Il college graduating class party, everyone is joyful, nicely dressed, there are rides and a kissing booth. Larry (Murray) and his best friend Gray have volunteered to be ambulance drivers for the war. Larry is a shallow, charming guy, but comes home from the war changed, after seeing the realities of friends getting killed right next to him. He postpones his marriage and leaves his fiancee at home as he travels to France, and eventually to Tibet, for his own search for the meaning of life.

His awareness is heightened while, working in a mine, he pushes his boozing supervisor to safety as a rail car is about to kill him. He does end up in Tibet, has an experience on the top of a mountain, and finds the internal peace that he was looking for.

Meanwhile, his fiancee, looking for a family and stability, marries his best friend, Gray. His one true love, Sophie, had married Bob, but Bob and their son were killed in a wreck by a drunken driver. Sophie eventually ends up in a Paris brothel, never recovering from her tragedy. The economic depression of the 1920s hit, making those formerly wealthy people distraught. Larry helps his old friend relax, coin in hand, and the headaches disappear.

When Larry meets up with Sophie again, he rescues her from the brothel, sobers her up, they plan to marry. Until she has a relapse, there is a fight in the brothel, Larry gets beat up, the next day Sophie's body is found in the river, her throat had been slashed. But Larry is somber, he knows each of us is really alone in the world anyway. Disappointed, he finally heads back home, America. In the last, symbolic scene, he is walking up a very long flight of concrete stairs outside, and as he gets nearer the top, starts to run up them.

The DVD is just OK. There are many artifacts on the image, either by a dirty camera gate or, more likely, a poor transfer from film to digital. There are no "extras" of interest, and the sound is just OK. Still, a very good film for anyone who likes good character studies. Murry demonstrates his acting chops early, even though he was 34 here.
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Woody-195 February 2003
Don't listen to anyone who bashes this film. It is wonderful. I welcome this dramatic role for clown Bill Murray. I saw it the first time when it first came out on video, not knowing what to expect except that it was a drama. I thought the film was fantastic. Murray goes off on a search for himself and the truth, while his friends change and endure their indulgences. A lot to be admired about this film. Not everyone's cup of tea probably, but certainly not the snore fest that others would paint it to be.
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A criminally underrated whimsical tale
gavin.hurst6 September 2000
Well I'd have to say that I do carry a bias, growing up in the eighties when Bill Murray was the King of Laughs. However the first time I sat down to watch this I was hooked. Although Murray never really plays the laughs up as you might expect. His performance is just the other side of brilliant, and never what you'd expect. Although I can partially see why this film was slated in the press, I still loved it enough to give it the maximum ten out of ten. However I was bedazzled as soon as my eyes hit the screen. Although Bill Murray might have spoiled it for others I thought him inspiring, and with the support of the rest of the cast surely this should have done much better. Other acting performances notably from the troubled Theresa Russell. Stunning backdrops, and thought provoking moments, not a film to enjoy with a pint though sadly, perhaps peanuts and leg irons might be more suitable?
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Beautifully done
Marie-6210 July 2003
"The Razor's Edge" has to be one of the best movies ever made. It's real, it's beautiful, and it's deep. Bill Murray is terrific in this movie, adding his humor along with his dramatic character. Along side of him is Therese (sorry if I spelled her wrong) Russell and Catherine Hicks. Of course everyone has seen Catherine in "7th Heaven" but she was an absolute beauty in this movie, full of the emotion and passion that Annie (her character on the show) rarely sports. I'm surprised she hasn't been in a million movies and didn't win an academy for this one. Therese Russell has those eyes that cuts right through you. Yes, this movie is definitely a gem. Best of all, there are plenty of twists and turns throughout the movie to make it interesting. It's not just a story of a man trying to find himself, it's also the story of the people in his life and the sacrifices people make for each other. I suggest that you see it in DVD format, even if you hate widescreen as much as I do. They did a great job reformatting it and recoloring it. Wonderful movie, a 10/10 most definitely! YOU HAVE TO SEE IT!!!!!!!
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an incredible movie
gilesq_lynn26 February 2006
This movie is only ever so slightly marred by bill murray's inability to keep his 'bill murray-ness' fully in check (the scene where he hams it up as a crazed barking seal in the swimming pool comes to mind). But besides that it is really an exceptional, well presented movie. It's the story of a young man who reacts to the harsh realities of mindless deaths in world war one, and his subsequent quest to find some deeper meaning for life. There are romantic and dramatic tensions, compelling tragedy, and spiritual questing - which takes the bill murray lead character on a meandering path, eventually arriving at a monastery among the lofty peaks of Tibet. And along with all this are some very tender moments and some very, very funny lines.

It's all in all one of the most moving stories I've seen. I actually could hardly speak when the movie ended. At the time my companion started chatting away as the end credits rolled, and I wondered how she could possibly have seen the same movie and not been as deeply affected. However, just a few moments later - as we walked from the theater - she suddenly stopped walking & broke down weeping.
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surprising, wonderful film!
artiste-19 February 2004
I have seen several versions, of this film, and read the book. This is the most moving "true to the spirit of the book" version I have ever seen. Watching it 10 years later, I am still impressed by Bill Murray's performance, and thank the heavens he insisted on making this movie. It's meaningful, well crafted, and well worth watching.
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