Newest Reviews
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
No Man of God
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Quiet Place Part II, A
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
  Starting Over Break Up Make Up
Year: 1979
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Candice Bergen, Charles Durning, Frances Sternhagen, Austin Pendleton, Mary Kay Place, MacIntyre Dixon, Jay O. Sanders, Charles Kimbrough, Richard Whiting, Alfie Wise, Wallace Shawn, Sturgis Warner, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Phil Potter (Burt Reynolds) is going through one of the toughest times in his life because he is getting a divorce from Jessica (Candice Bergen), who among other things feels her songwriting career is picking up and there is no place for Phil in her world anymore. As he packs, somewhat haphazardly after a last ditch attempt to get back together with her, he finds she has kept his old love letters taped behind a drawer, but even this poignant moment is not enough to make her see she is making what he feels is a mistake. And so Phil has to start again, make changes and generally become a new person...

Except he's still the same person really, in this, one of the many relationship break-up films of the late seventies and early eighties. Nothing beats Annie Hall for this type of thing, but Starting Over did very well in its day, garnering a few Oscar nominations, although most people prefer to remember Burt for Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run nowadays and forget he was accomplished at drama as well as broad comedy, a talent he gets to show both sides of here. James L. Brooks was the real brains behind this production, however, as the future Simpsons producer adapted the book and his tender but wry style is all over this.

There is a love triangle in Starting Over, and the other woman Phil gets to romance is Marilyn (Jill Clayburgh), who treats us to an unusual "meeting cute" when she thinks Phil is following her on the street one night, and yells at him in a string of expletives and threats before running away. Bewildered Phil continues to the house of his brother Mickey (Charles Durning) only to find that Marilyn is already there: she is his blind date for the evening, so of course they were headed in the same direction. This misunderstanding, believe it or not, provides the basis for a new love affair for them both.

Although if you can believe that Charles Durning is Burt Reynolds' brother, you can believe anything. Before long the nervous Phil, in a role that Paul Giamatti would be ideal for in a remake, is turning his life around, and Reynolds is very likeable as a man who is not as confident as he might appear to be as he gives up his magazine writing job to become a college tutor and the relationship between Phil and Marilyn blossoms; she even moves in with him. And then the unthinkable happens: Jessica reappears, and wants him back, spelling fresh turmoil for our put-upon hero.

Mostly this is neatly handled, with perceptive performances although Brooks' script lets things down a few too many times, as when Phil takes Polaroids of Marilyn in the shower as a joke and she doesn't see the funny side - neither do you, instead thinking that this kind of behaviour might be why he ended up divorced. Fortunately the three stars, backed up with solid support from a winning group of thespians, smooth over rough edges such as that with some degree of effectiveness, although it never seems as natural as it should. There are some clever examples of the comedy of embarrassment, as when Bergen bravely shows off her lack of a good singing voice when Jessica tries to serenade Phil into bed, and you are genuinely unsure of where this will end up, although with Brooks perhaps it's not a huge surprise. Nothing groundbreaking then, but amusing and well-played nonetheless. Music by Marvin Hamlisch.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3329 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Alan J. Pakula  (1928 - 1998)

Smart American director and producer who started out producing Robert Mulligan dramas such as Fear Strikes Out, To Kill A Mockingbird and Inside Daisy Clover. He turned to direction with The Sterile Cuckoo, but really hit his stride in the seventies with the conspiracy-flavoured trio Klute (for which Jane Fonda won an Oscar), cult classic The Parallax View and Watergate thriller All The President's Men. Other films from the era included romance Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing, western Comes a Horseman, and Burt Reynolds comedy Starting Over.

As the eighties dawned, Pakula had a hit with Holocaust drama Sophie's Choice, but seemed to lose his touch thereafter with middling efforts such as the odd drama Dream Lover, expensive flop Orphans, hit thriller Presumed Innocent, failure Consenting Adults, Julia Roberts vehicle The Pelican Brief and Harrison Ford-Brad Pitt team up The Devil's Own. He was once married to actress Hope Lange and died in a road accident.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: