Sunday, October 21, 2018
The Plumber (1979 TV Movie)
Written and directed by Peter Weir, The Plumber is the story of a plumber who works at an apartment for the wife of a professor as his attempts to befriend her only leads to all sorts of trouble. The film is a TV movie that Weir did in 1979 that explores a woman succumbing to paranoia over the activities of her plumber. Starring Judy Morris, Ivar Kants, and Robert Coleby. The Plumber is a compelling yet intriguing TV film from Peter Weir.
The film revolves around a professor’s wife whose husband is working towards a major interview with the World Health Organization as she stays at a flat where the water pipes are going through trouble prompting a plumber to come in and fix things only to cause a lot of trouble. It’s a film with a simple premise that play into a woman dealing with this unruly presence in a plumber as she is trying to finish an anthropologist thesis. Peter Weir’s script play into this simple premise where the titular character in Max (Ivar Kants) is asked by the university to fix the plumbing of a professor and his wife at their loft just as the former is getting a chance to go to Geneva while the latter stays home. For Jill Cowper (Judy Morris), Max causing troubles and wanting to chat just becomes annoying as it include these stories of him being in jail and such which adds to the sense of fear and paranoia for Jill. She turns to her husband Brian (Robert Coleby) who dismisses it as he’s busy with work as it adds more tension and chaos as he would see what’s happened to the bathroom.
Weir’s direction is low-key in its simplicity as he does create some unique compositions as the film is largely set inside this loft in Australia. Weir would use some wide shots to get a look at the apartment loft from the outside yet much of his direction is based on intimate usages of close-ups and medium shots. Particularly in the scenes at the apartment loft where Jill is watching what Max is doing and see if he’s doing a good job though he spends much of the time goofing off or trying to talk to Jill. There’s some offbeat moments in the film though it starts off slowly to build up the suspense early into the film as Weir’s direction is about establishing the characters and location in the first act. The rest of the film is about how much Jill could deal with Max while there’s a moment in the third act when Brian invites members of the WHO for a dinner where it has an element of humor but also shock. Even as it play into this tension between husband and wife over this plumber who could playing both of them in this idea of home invasion. Overall, Weir crafts a riveting yet whimsical film about a plumber wreaking havoc into the life of a college professor’s wife.
Cinematographer David Sanderson does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is shot on 16mm to play into some of the grainy elements of the film including a lot of the shots of the interior scenes including the moments set at night. Editor Gerald Turney-Smith does terrific work with the editing as it is straightforward with a few stylish moments in the film to play into the suspense. Production designer Wendy Stites, with art directors Ken James and Herbert Pinter, does brilliant work with the look of the loft with some of the things that Jill has as well as the look of the bathroom in its ruined and messy state. Sound recordist Ken Hammond does nice work with the sound as it help play into the atmosphere of Max fixing the bathroom and the chaos that he’s creating while Jill tries to work. The film’s music by Rory O’Donoghue and Gerry Tolland is wonderful for its score that features some African-based percussion music as well as bits of serene yet eerie orchestral music to play into the suspense and drama.
The film’s superb cast include a few notable small roles from Henri Szeps as an American official of WHO in David Medavoy, Candy Raymond as Jill’s friend Meg, Yomi Abioudan as an African official of WHO, and Beverley Roberts as the Indian official of WHO. Robert Coleby is fantastic as Dr. Brian Cowper as a college professor who is given the chance to attend a WHO conference in Geneva as he deals with the chaos of his apartment and his wife’s behavior. Judy Morris is excellent as Jill Cowper as an anthropologist who is trying to finish a thesis as she deals with the presence of the plumber as she believes that he’s stalking her and giving her a lot of shit. Finally, there’s Ivar Kants in an amazing performance as Max as the titular character who is talkative man that is full of humor but also an element of darkness as it relates to his criminal past, whether it’s true or not, as he causes problems for Jill as well as the bathroom.
The Plumber is a marvelous film from Peter Weir. Featuring a superb ensemble cast, a minimalist premise, and a playful approach to suspense, the film is a fascinating story about paranoia and stalking as it play into a woman dealing with a troublesome plumber. In the end, The Plumber is a brilliant film from Peter Weir.
Peter Weir Films: (3 to Go-Michael) – (Homesdale) – (Whatever Happened to Green Valley?) - (The Car That Ate Paris) – Picnic at Hanging Rock - (The Last Wave) – Gallipoli - The Year of Living Dangerously - (Witness) – (Mosquito Coast) – Dead Poets Society - (Green Card) – (Fearless) – (The Truman Show) – Master and Commander: Far Side of the World - The Way Back
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