Petulia | Chicago Reader

Petulia

One of the finest films of and about the 60s, Richard Lester's romantic comedy tells the story of the relationship between a recently divorced surgeon (George C. Scott) and an unhappily married San Francisco socialite (Julie Christie) and takes deft, unexpected turns into the tragic and terrifying. Lester's volatile, quick-cut style finds its most expressive application in his description of a world fatally fragmented into rich and poor, past and present, compassion and indifference. Scott has never been more powerful or so subtle: his weary but still hopeful physician is a Shakespearean figure, cloaked in a majestic sadness. But the film belongs to Christie, who earns the Oscar she won for Darling with a plangent portrayal of a woman struggling to transcend her own shallowness. With Richard Chamberlain, Shirley Knight, Arthur Hill, and Joseph Cotten; the excellent screenplay is the work of Lawrence Marcus, and Nicolas Roeg did the cinematography (1968). 105 min.

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