“Life is a state of mind.”
A simple-minded man lives his entire life as a gardener inside the house of a wealthy old man. When the old man dies, “Chance” is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television.. A twist of fate, leading others into confusing his simplistic utterances for profound insights, sees him rise rapidly amongst Washington’s rich and powerful.
Being There can be seen as a modern fable, sociopolitical satire, or religious parable on the nature of identity. Whatever the perspective however, this film is always touching, funny and thought-provoking. Director Hal Ashby‘s adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski‘s 1971 novel is a tour de force of sensitivity – a beautiful, intelligent, and gentle look at human nature. Like few films, it dares to ask questions that may well stay with you for months and years after you have seen it. Peter Sellers‘ peculiar talents are ideally suited to this particular role and he spent many years in an effort to bring this story to the screen. His is a ‘Zen-like’ performance like none other – an exquisitely balanced portrayal in which he manages to be at once convincing as both amazingly “deep” and profoundly “empty”. This is the absolute standout of his career. The inventive ending of the film is one the most debated in cinema. Beautiful and poetic it leaves ample room for the viewer to interpret. Perhaps though, as the title suggests, it is only by simply “being there” that the fullest wonder of life can occur.
Being There is a rare and subtle bird, not to be missed.