Après de longues années de bons et loyaux services dans une compagnie dassurances, Warren Schmidt prend sa retraite et se retrouve déprimé par ce vide soudain. Rien ne sarrangera lorsque sa fille lui annoncera son mariage avec un raté et que sa femme mourra après 42 ans de vie commune. Monsieur Schmidt entreprendra alors un long voyage en véhicule récréatif de luxe et parrainera un enfant africain pour tenter de trouver un sens à son existence.
Maniant habilement la tragicomédie, Alexander Payne présente un point de vue particulièrement touchant sur la vieillesse. Car même sil se sert de ses personnages avec beaucoup dironie pour faire rire, il les regarde également avec une grande tendresse. Il offre aussi à Nicholson un rôle à la hauteur de son talent, en vieux grincheux égoïste et malheureux, et lui permet de se mesurer à dexcellents comédiens, dont Kathy Bates, désopilante en vieille hippie. Parfois acide, souvent hilarant, About Schmidt est une comédie douce-amère au scénario riche et au rythme enlevé, qui permet encore une réflexion sur la difficulté de se définir lorsquon tombe à la retraite dans notre société conditionnée par le travail. --Helen Faradji
Alexander Payne's portrait of Midwestern suburban life is almost unrelentingly bleak, following its main character around and focusing on all the tiny indignities that steadily pile up on him. The relentlessly self-analytical Warren has examined his life in search of some higher purpose, and he's come up lacking. Looking back he can see only missed opportunities and pointless toil, and looking ahead he only glimpses loneliness and impending death. He has only two things left that give his life any semblance of meaning: his attempts to prevent his beloved daughter from marrying a mulleted, fu-manchued waterbed salesman named Randall; and Ndugu, the Tanzanian orphan whom he starts supporting financially early in the movie. Warren's letters to Ndugu serve as a perfect framing device, providing a window to the internal conflicts that roil beneath his quiet exterior.
Since the monstrous shadow of "Election" looms over this movie for its entire two hours, comparisons are all but inevitable, and I might as well make mine now. Both movies are allegorical tales set in white-bread Nebraska locales, but "Election" is a screwball comedy anchored by a serious plot, while "About Schmidt" is a dark tale of quiet desparation and self-reflection with some offbeat humor mixed in. It's a good thing there are some laughs here too, or I might have wound up trying to hang myself with my belt after I first saw the movie. Most of the humor to be found come from Dermot Mulroney's clueless Randall and, of course, Kathy Bates as Randall's mildly deranged motormouth of a mother. Bates practically steals the show during her limited screen time, as her character's sincerity, her brutal honesty, and above all her tendency to reveal excessive details provides a much-needed counterpoint to Nicholson's reserve and bitterness.
While I'll be the first to admit that "About Schmidt" isn't an easy movie to watch, it's not supposed to be. What makes this such a rewarding movie is the challenge of watching such a thoroughly unremarkable man for two hours, following along with his path through despair, self-discovery, and ultimately a measure of redemption. Sure, Warren Schmidt's just a retired geezer from Nebraska, but his sufferings are more universal than they may appear at first. Warren's experiences make for such fascinating viewing precisely because there are so many people like him out there.
By far the tiredest, lamest movie I have ever seen. I've never been Jack's biggest fan, but this is sooooooo bad. I can't believe he did this. Read more