MAX ROSE (2016) 5 Stars out of 5

max-rose-movie-posterThe perspective of writing this review has been sharpened by having been one of only a handful of people last week who sat-in on a 30 minute interview between Jim Moret and Jerry Lewis. The interview was held immediately prior to the Las Vegas screening of MAX ROSE. Following the screening, Jerry Lewis then led a 45 minute Q&A with a mixed audience of both invited VIPs including many stars of the Las Vegas Strip, and the public.

MAX ROSE is the film project that Jerry Lewis waited 20 years to make together with writer-director Daniel Noah. It is a deeply personal study of an elderly man whose beloved wife has just died. His funeral eulogy will break your heart. As the story develops, the visits with his granddaughter Annie are some of the most beautiful moments found in any movie this year. The scenes are raw and real and as an audience, we can relate to. The story deepens with Chris, the son that Max has renounced because he gave up on his first marriage and neglected Annie. The story becomes even darker when Max discovers that perhaps his beloved wife may have been in love with another man. Stay with me.

I learned during the pre-screening interview that the original script was loosely based upon Mr. Noah’s grandparents. I also learned that Mr. Lewis, always a perfectionist — continued to work with his director making changes in dialogue and scenes based upon the feedback they were hearing from early preview audiences. What you will see up on the screen, according to Mr. Lewis, is perfection. And I have to agree.

MAX ROSE is not an easy film to watch. It is going to be a tough box office sell. Who wants to go to the movies knowing that you are going to cry. And you will.

So why put yourself through this emotional roller-coaster? MAX ROSE is so honest. And so cathartic.

The casting and the performances are flawless. Jerry Lewis deserves an Oscar nomination as Best Actor of the Year for this performance. You are watching a 90 year old man who has seen so much and done so much in his lifetime. It is not so much the words that he is saying up on the screen, but the subtle facial gestures and the look in his eyes that are so devastating.

Eva is played by Claire Bloom. Annie is played by Kerry Bishe. Chris is played by Kevin Pollak. Each performance is Oscar worthy. Two additional great actors — Dean Stockwell and Mort Sahl, are each unforgettable in the brief time they are on the screen.

MAX ROSE is about each of our lives. Our loss and grieving. About family and forgiveness. In the Q&A, Jerry Lewis made the point that his role was solely as an actor. He did not direct any part of this film. He acted in a movie that he desperately wanted to make. Few, if any in Hollywood would have had the courage and determination to see this project to completion. He took the time to do it right. The least we can do for this King of Comedy, is to support this effort. There will never again be anyone quite like Jerry Lewis.

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