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2 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Razor's Edge, The (1984)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Better-than-you've-heard literary adaptation...yes, with Bill Murray."
4 stars

Long considered a disposable vanity project from Bill Murray at the top of his popularity, The Razor’s Edge is actually not a bad little movie.

Based on the celebrated novel by W. Somerset Maugham, this marks the second cinematic adaptation (the first came in 1946 and starred Tyrone Power) of the material and I’m hard pressed to discover why this one was knocked so mercilessly upon its initial release. (Granted, I’ve never read Maugham’s novel but I’m here to judge movies, not literature.)

Most easily described as ‘one man’s search for meaning’, The Razor’s Edge offers us Larry Darrell, an easygoing young aristocrat from Chicago. Larry and his best buddy Gray have volunteered to act as medics in World War One, unaware of the graphic horrors that await them. Upon returning home after being shot, Larry finds his life an underwhelming charade and promptly sets off for Paris to live a bohemian lifestyle. This news is met with reluctant understanding by his status-obsessed fiancée Isabel. After bouncing from job to unsavory job, Larry finds himself a home in a temple high in the Himalayas. Larry’s return to Paris finds him a new man entirely, and when a few familiar faces from back home arrive on the scene, they’re deeply affected his transformation.

Though it’s often cited as Murray’s first foray into drama, the character he offers here is not unlike several he’s created in his career. Sure, his trademark humor and sarcasm is tempered with the attempt at creating such a layered character, but I’d contend that Murray does a bang-up job here. He may be coasting a bit more on his ‘star power’ than any powerhouse acting chops but the result is still the same. Larry Darrell is a guy you’ll enjoy two hours with.

Directed with a keen eye for impressive exteriors and populated with a host of impressive supporting performers (including James Keach, Theresa Russell and Denholm Elliot), The Razor’s Edge may be a truncated and somewhat episodic adaptation but it’s certainly compelling enough to keep you involved for a solid two hours.

Released the same year as Murray’s Ghostbusters (and grossing about 1/20th the revenues) The Razor’s Edge may pique your interest via Murray’s presence but this one’s a considerably better effort than the ‘vanity-driven reach for legitimacy’ that its detractors have labeled it. Heck, after watching the film, I’m now tempted to pick up Maugham’s novel.

Surely a movie that can do that deserves some praise.

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originally posted: 10/21/02 09:42:53
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User Comments

12/09/19 Dave Werner Good enough to make me read the book. I love Theresa Russel. 4 stars
7/18/16 Jeff Murray bit off more than he could chew. Read the book. 2 stars
2/20/16 Margie Bang Larry followed the lessons he learned in Tibet admirably! 5 stars
7/08/15 brian Looks beautiful, but Murray's dead eyes leave his acting flat. Slow. Not awful, though. 3 stars
1/18/15 Lynn Guier One of my very favorite Bill Murray movies!! 5 stars
11/14/14 Len Daley I watch this movie for inspiration and enjoy it deeply every time. 5 stars
4/18/14 the unlikely guru hey if you like this watch the oridginal the different take on it is a cool comparison. 4 stars
9/25/11 Chad Hautmann A superb movie, one of my all-time faves--and I'm not alone in that assessment. 5 stars
4/04/11 Robert Peterson One of my all time 10 best films. I love it. 5 stars
11/12/06 mr.mike not bad,but i recall it dragging on too long.... 3 stars
2/25/06 Kankasaur Maugham's "Darrell" played tentatively by Murray, not yet an acting force majeur. 4 stars
6/20/05 Richie Alternating layers of shallow and profound, which echoes reality - nu? 5 stars
2/05/04 Judy One of my absolute top favorites 5 stars
9/26/03 Charles Tatum Much better than you think 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Flawed and uneven, yet, miraculously, it manages to affectingly touch. Russell is superb. 4 stars
11/22/02 S. Reuter You know, it is really a well done flick. It's serious, "existential" (50cent word) and... 5 stars
7/27/02 Soulis well acted, serious plot, good film, don't rent it for laughs 4 stars
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  19-Oct-1984 (PG-13)



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