Directed by Alexander Payne. USA. 2003.

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With this follow up to the excellent Election, Alexander Payne is sitting firmly on the crest of the new wave of directors that are slowly changing Hollywood. About Schmidt is a pitch black comedy about the difference an 
individual makes to the world around them.

The film stars Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt, a retired insurance salesman who is seeking desperately for meaning at the end of his life and, as a result, decides to sponsor a child in Africa and attempts to prevent his daughterís wedding to a waterbed salesman. Jack Nicholson gives a heart rendering performance as the lead character, displaying a range and restraint rarely seen in previous films. With any other actor the film might not have had the same effect; Nicholson is in every scene of this film and his screen presence commands unfaltering 

The film is shot in miserably grey and brown tones but Payne somehow manages to alert the audience to the beauty of this. The filmís uncompromising reality strangely unleashes a poetic and sensitive tale that is not apparent at the start of the film, with the climactic scene offering a redemption that would take a blowtorch to even the coldest of hearts.

About Schmidt is a remarkable film that asks serious questions in the most sincere and deeply affecting manner, the excellence of which is matched only by Nicholsonís performance.

Aaron Asadi
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