A Man of No Importance (1994)

"It's ahhrt." - Finney

In Suri Krishnamma's A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, Albert Finney disappears so
deeply into the role of a lovable Dublin bus conductor that it's a shame
when the film gets so serious around him.  His character is a conductor
with a passion for Oscar Wilde.  He reads to his riders, and once a
year, with their help, he tries to stage one of the author's plays.

This year it's "Salome."

For about an hour, there's a sweet magic behind Finney and his troupe of
working-class stiffs.  Conflict arises, but it's small stuff-- an
administrator from the bus company here, an outraged Catholic pork
butcher (Michael Gambon) there.  But with Finney at the wheel, so to
speak, the film rolls smoothly over these plot points-- just like the
gorgeous Leland double-decker bus in the story.

Where things get serious is toward the end of the film, when the plot
takes a turn that the bus never would, and the story heads down a very
dark alley that marks the end of an enjoyable ride.  The twist makes
sense-- and helps paint a complete picture of Finney's character-- but
the trip to get there betrays the light, airy atmosphere of what had
come before.

It's not a fatal misstep, mind you, and it doesn't send the story
soaring into the realms of incredulity.  It's just a turn off.  (Rated
"R"/98 min.)

Grade: B

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