Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep) is a wealthy, unmarried woman in Denmark in the 1910s. In her circle, an unmarried woman is deemed unseemly, so she marries her friend, Baron Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer), on the basis that she will become a baroness and he will share her wealth. The two move to Africa (I think it’s Kenya) with intentions of starting a dairy, but unbeknownst to Karen her new husband has changed all the plans to growing coffee instead. He proves to be an inadequate husband, always being away hunting whilst his wife is left home with nothing to do, as whenever she tries to help out with the work the local staff are confused at her presence. Enter Denys (Robert Redford), a big game hunter who at first becomes friends with Karen, along with another man, Michael Kitchen’s Berkeley, but soon, inevitably, starts a relationship with her too. Continue reading →
Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is an actor in New York who, though talented and passionate about his work, finds himself unable to land a role due to age and physical limitations (I can be taller!) and a bad reputation for thinking too much about a character and arguing with the director. When he learns of an upcoming part on hospital soap opera Southwest General he makes sure he gets the gig, regardless of the fact that the character is female. This simple premise, man pretends to be a woman to get a job, would these days be most likely given to the likes of Eddie Murphy or Adam Sandler, played entirely for gross-out laughs and hopefully tanking at the box office, but fortunately in 1982 Hoffman plays the part(s) relatively straight, giving arguably a career best turn in a body of work hardly lacking in expertise.
Hoffman is disturbingly convincing as Dorsey’s alter ego Dorothy Michaels, and the scenes where he transforms his appearance are at times uncomfortable to watch. George Gaynes and Bill Murray do their best to steal the show, respectively as a lecherous autocue-reading lead actor and Dorsey’s sardonic flatmate Jeff (You slut!) but it is Hoffman’s film, and nothing can detract from his central performance.