1970s, New York. A middle-aged man called Chance a sort of idiot savant lives absorbed in his only occupations: watching television - his only contact with the outside world - and taking care of the garden. Upon the death of the owner of the house that hosts him from birth, Chance is forced to overcome the threshold that separates him and protects him from the society of men. Suddenly he finds himself frequenting politicians and magnates in a dizzying social ascent based on a misunderstanding: his every affirmation, however simple and relative to his limited experience of life, is loaded with non-existent meanings and interpreted as a global metaphor.
In a collective and contagious hallucination, Chance acquires consistency and value because others attribute it to him: his silences are mistaken for wisdom, his words taken for granted even by the most discerning. Stinging and merciless satire of American society seen through the eyes of a lunar and astonished protagonist, reminiscent of Beckett's characters, Jerzy Kosinski's novel draws an allegory in contemporary form. The upper class, weakened by the search for the sophisticated at all costs, and without reference points in politics as in economics, confuses the simplicity of the mind with the greatest sensibility, coming to celebrate as a guru a perfect illiterate. The shy and naive Chance offers everyone, with indifference, an empty mold in which everyone pours what he needs, obtaining a simulacrum to be exalted. The innocent gardener is instead a true antihero, a man without qualities, yes, but a universal and poetic character. The performance of Peter Sellers, in the hands of a nonconformist and gifted director, is practically perfect.
Ashby adapts the camera to the times and ways of doing of his hero, respecting, on the one hand, the surplace and the pauses with which Sellers marks the dialogues, on the other, managing to give rhythm to a story that takes place almost completely at the indoor. Always at ease with a type of masculinity that, refusing to become an adult, declines any kind of responsibility, Ashby continues to be a director of rupture. Peter Seller's interpretation of his penultimate appearance was memorable before an heart attack took him away forever. A work to smile and to decipher ourselves through the clear eyes of a simple mind with infinite candor.
director HAL ASHBY
director of photography CALEB DESCHANEL
cast PETER SELLERS, SHIRLEY MACLAINE, MELVYN DOUGLAS, JACK WARDEN
words SILVIA GAIA MARCELLI
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