The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Erik Canuel's long-gestating Barrymore, which stars Oscar winner Christopher Plummer as the legendary John Barrymore, will be theatrically released by BY Experience and Image Entertainment in New York and Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 15.
Barrymore, which had its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival -- where it attracted looks from Focus Features and Sony Pictures Classics, among others, but ultimately left without a buyer -- was adapted by Canuel from a 1996 Broadway production for which Plummer won a Tony Award for best performance by a leading actor. (Plummer, 82, has been a lifelong admirer of Barrymore, who died at the age of 60 in 1942.)
It is a one-man show -- quite literally. For almost all of its 83 minutes, Plummer is the only actor who appears on screen, depicting Barrymore in the months before his premature death as he tries to rehearse for a Broadway revival of one of his greatest triumphs, but can't seem to get out of his own way.
For better or worse, this production comes off a lot like a filmed play, with not much done to "open it up" for the cinema, but a performance at its center that is so engaging that few seem to mind. (Plus, earlier this year, a filmed version of Plummer's performance as Prospero in The Tempest was very well-received in several hundred theaters around America.)
Precious few films have ever been made with just one actor, and only one that I can think of has ever received any sort of awards recognition -- Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975), for which James Whitmore scored a best actor nod for his portrayal of President Harry S. Truman.
Might Plummer, who won the best supporting actor Oscar last Feb. for Beginners (2011), and in so doing became the oldest acting Oscar nominee and Oscar winner in history, have one more awards run left in the tank? Time will tell.