directed by Joseph Losey (1963)
The quietly strange film The Servant grabbed my attention with subtle and indefinable tension. For an hour or so, I couldn’t quite tell why I was so intrigued.
This complex take on class struggle based on the novel by Robin Maugham, written by Harold Pinter, concerns an oblivious upper class young man named tony who has vague plans to make lots of money clearing Brazilian rain forests but can’t pour his own brandy.
Enter Hugo Barrett, a seemingly devoted manservant who slowly becomes integral to Tony’s existence. Bogarde’s performance is key to the movies success. he plays a soft spoken servant hiding the cruelty of a master manipulator. He’s both creepy in his surprising viciousness and alluring in his brazenness. Even naked in silhouette he’s fascinating to watch.
Inventive Cinematography, great use of music (“All Gone”, sung by Cleo Laine), and constant visual and palpable tension make this movie more than a mere social class allegory. It’s also quite beautiful, quietly homoerotic (though this might only be my interpretation) and one of those films that really gets under your skin.
On Netflix instant.