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Mainstream - Bobby Deerfield - Al Pacino

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Bobby Deerfield
Al Pacino, Marthe Keller
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Originally released 1977
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2008
124 minutes

If there is such a thing as a lost Al Pacino or Sydney Pollack movie, Bobby Deerfield was it until its DVD release. I doubt Pollack has ever made a formulaic movie and this one is not a contender for that tag. Marketed as a film about racing and Formula One driver Bobby Deerfield (Pacino), the movie is instead a romantic drama about life and death.

There is very little racing here. In fact, the opening minutes of this movie have Deerfield vow not to get back on a race track until he figures out why his teammate died in a crash or until he can convince himself it was not due to pilot error. In his search for answers Deerfield goes to the sanatorium where another pilot is being cared for and meets a strong-willed and very curious woman (Marthe Keller as Lillian Morelli). The lifeless man who cheats death for a living becomes fascinated by the very lively woman.

This is certainly an odd and unusual film and Pacino's very controlled performance of a man who is detached from everything is interesting. Pollack adds touches of comedy here and there when you least expect it such as when he has an Italian woman translate a note or when Deerfield finally takes off his dark glasses on a dare from Morelli.

This is a pretty good movie but it is so low key it demands a bit of commitment from the viewer. Even the confrontation scene between Morelli and Deerfield is subdued though you do get Pacino's imitation of Mae West as sort of promised early on. You have to appreciate how Pollack does not go for the heartstrings in Bobby Deerfield but instead allows life to continue.

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