Maggie Smith Shines in a Delightful, Little-Seen Romance
Famous for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, A Room With a View and the Harry Potter series of films, Dame Maggie Smith is one of the greatest actresses of her generation. She also gave an outstanding performance in Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), though not many people are familiar with it because the movie has been difficult to see for many years. But that changed as of September 8, 2009, when this agreeable dramedy became available for the first time on DVD.
Love and Pain is not so well known, but big-name talents were involved in making it. The director was Alan J. Pakula, celebrated for All the President's Men and Sophie's Choice. The screenwriter was Alvin Sargent, whose credits include Paper Moon, Ordinary People and Spider-Man movies. And starring opposite Maggie Smith was Timothy Bottoms of Last Picture Show fame.
A Movie That Is Both Laugh-Out-Loud Funny and Genuinely Romantic
In summary form, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing sounds trite, but it doesn't play that way because the filmmakers mostly avoided clichés, and the lead actors were so successful at capturing their characters. The story is that a prim and proper fortyish spinster (Maggie Smith) and a socially awkward college-age man (Timothy Bottoms) meet and fall in love. The movie was shot in Spain, and the locations are charming, though you probably won't recognize any of them.
One memorable scene takes place in the middle of nowhere at a roadside café surrounded by tires painted white, and the spinster accidentally gets trapped inside the outhouse there. A couple of late sequences are set among the windmills of La Mancha to reflect the quixotic nature of the romantic relationship between the two mismatched misfits. Several scenes are hilarious, both while you're watching them and when you think back on them later, and although the movie gets a little soapy at the end, it has a lot of heart.
A Special Martini to Sip While Watching the Movie
Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing is part of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Martini Movies series of DVD releases, and they provide a different recipe for a martini to drink while watching each film in the series. Here's the one for this movie:
1 part vodka
1 part amaretto
1 part peach schnapps
1 part orange juice
Dip rim of glass in sugar
Below I have listed all the details for the DVD containing Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing, which has no extras other than its theatrical trailer.
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Feature Film Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, Color