The Razor's Edge; Drama, USA, 1984; D: John Byrum, S: Bill Murray, Denholm Elliott, Theresa Russell, James Keach, Catherine Hicks, Peter Vaughan
USA, World War I. Larry Duke enlists voluntarily to fight in the war, where a lot of his friends die. He manages to survive the frightening experience, however. When he returns to the opulent style of life of his rich family he is a changed man, so he delays the arranged wedding with his fiance Isabel Bradley and heads of to Paris in search for inner peace. He reads a Buddhist book that inspires him to visit India. By digging in a coal mine, he collects enough money to afford a journey to India. In Nepal, he seeks spiritual help from a lama. After a revelation, he eventually returns to Paris and meets Sophie, whose husband and child have died in a car accident. She is a very confused woman, but he manages to start a normal communication with her. Although they start a relationship, Sophie commits suicide with a razor, and he gets beaten up in a cafe. He rejects all his property and leaves his home.
If good intentions were enough to make a quality film, "The Razor's Edge" would have been an excellent film. Unfortunately, by today's standards, this overstretched David Lean like drama only enchants with her outstanding music by Jack Nitzsche. This second version of W. Somerset Maugham's novel with the same title is an interesting film, but also vague, unconcluded, and filled with obvious flaws. The exposition starts just like Bill Murray's later film "Groundhog Day" - with wonderful shots of the blue sky and clouds, and later, when the story starts, offers a few nice details and panorama shots (Larry leans forwards on the stairs ad his hat falls down, the 5 minute long sequence of the ambulance cars driving through the battle front while the ground is being bombarded all around them...), but the rest of the film that portrays the state after the war has almost no conclusive plot. Obviously, this is a story about a man searching for himself, but his emotional state, spiritual goals and his reasons for depression were not described three dimensionally. Nor were they powerful enough. Thus, Murray was not used as a dramatic actor, which would have been interesting to see - instead, all other supporting actors did the drama for him. Actually, Theresa Russell almost steals the show. It looks more like his main protagonist wasn't connected with the story. That way, his thoughts were not revealed. Unfortunately, Murray acts rather inappropriately as a comedian during scenes when there was nothing suppose to be funny. For example, when he arrives in India, poor kids beg him to give them some money. He does. But then hundreds and hundreds of other kids show up, begging for more, and he starts running away from them since he doesn't have any money left, turning the whole thing into a grotesque. Murray was apparently very keen on this project and it shows. And that's why it's sad to see that the thin line between an average and exceptional film was not crossed, mostly due to director Byrum's innateness. In the end, it's just a solid film. Still, Murray would prove his dramatic talent in his latter critically acclaimed films like "Lost In Translation" and "Broken Flowers".