The best time and light for film biographies is twilight. Everything old looks grand in the dying light and creeping shadows, and it hardly matters that the actorly imitation is a step or two behind the genuine article. At that age everything is reflection, memory, regret and sadness, hopes of resurrecting those youthful steps and wins, raging against the dying of the light, but also treasuring what has been achieved.
In Stan & Ollie, Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are imitators par excellence of the Laurel and Hardy touch and the duos special repartee. That imitation allows Coogan and Reilly to deep dive into the rivalry and union of the two. Where the imitation ends is where the character begins and Stan & Ollie really shines.
The essence of their routines and of themselves was in their action and reaction to each other. Character comedy with a touch of slapstick and pathos was their brand and their essence. Stan & Ollie is superb in showing the variances and cohesion which made them great and ultimately inseparable partners.
Stan & Ollie shows that imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery but the essence of reality.
All photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.