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Finnegan Begin Again

Finnegan Begin Again

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Mike Finnegan is nearing retirement and taking care of his senile wife. He can’t get her to allow him to throw anything out and their house has become unmanageable. He meets Liz DeHaan, who is dating a man with whom she is hopelessly mismatched. They become confidants and each allows the other to share their life and experiences with them. This is one of the best films that slipped under the radar. All the actors give outstanding performances and the dark humor is unforgetable.

STARS: Mary Tyler Moore, Robert Preston, Sam Waterston

115 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 1985 | Color


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Gentle, witty, funny, quirky and warm
"Finnegan Begin Again", originally an HBO film, features the great Robert Preston (in his second-to-last film performance) and Mary Tyler Moore in a lovely, gently quirky tale of a May-December romance. Mike Finnegan (Preston), a newspaper columnist who ghosts as an advice-for-the-lovelorn matron, is married to Margaret, a woman who is not only a few years older than he but also suffering from what is apparently (but unnamed) dementia; he accepts the fact that, beyond whatever deep love he may have for his wife, that she is, in fact, lost in the mists of her dreams and recollections, a state reflected in their once-grand home in a once-grand, but now unsafe, area: it is as cluttered with remnants of the past as Margaret's mind, perhaps even more so. By chance - and here the writers have cleverly avoided the "meet cute" - on the bus, Mike meets Liz Dehan, a widowed art teacher, who is on her way to meet the very married Paul, a funeral director, at their usual, seedy motel room. Mike fancies himself an arm-chair Sherlock Holmes, watching people for the sheer interest in them but seeing clues as to what their lives are like, and he openly practices this on Liz, much to her dismay. Despite this tense beginning between them, a warm friendship develops and they find that there may, in fact, be more than friendship at play. Much like other Mary Tyler Moore films, this is played as strictly "dramedy" and it strikes just the right chord while doing it. The chemistry between the cast as a whole, and Moore and Preston in particular, is palpable, warm, and real. The direction, by Joan Micklin Silver, is reliably sure-handed, and serves the film well. It's a funny, warm, lovely movie, one that should appeal not only to an older audience but those younger audiences with mature tastes. Currently available only on VHS, this is certainly a film worth discovering!

Preston transparent and vital,-Sylvia Sydney, heartbreakingly real in this story of the end of a marriage and a life...and the beginning of a new one.
Robert Preston, "Lonelyhearts newswriter" discouraged, sour on life, caretaker to his wife of many decades; Sylvia Sydney, in a role of heartbreaking depth, his wife, slipped in dementia; Mary Tyler Moore, the woman who's had it all go wrong, together in a story of life at its ending and its beginnings. Superb.

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