Stephen Frears

"Although his output has been uneven, it has also proved extraordinarily wide-ranging while rarely failing to highlight his ability to obtain crowd-pleasing performances from his principal players… A worthy career, if not quite yet an auteur's one." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)

Stephen Frears

Director
(1941- ) Born June 20, Leicester, Leicestershire, England

Key Production Countries: UK, USA, France
Key Genres: Drama, Comedy Drama, Urban Drama, Crime Drama, Comedy of Manners, Satire, Gay & Lesbian Films, Urban Comedy, Period Film, Romantic Drama, Crime
Key Collaborators: Mick Audsley (Editor), Oliver Stapleton (Cinematographer), Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski (Production Designer), Tim Bevan (Producer), George Fenton (Composer), Chris Menges (Cinematographer), Judi Dench (Leading Actress), John Cusack (Leading Actor), Alan Bennett (Screenwriter), Norma Heyman (Producer), Tracey Seaward (Producer), Martin Scorsese (Producer)

"Stephen Frears is a significant figure in British cinema. Understanding the man and his cinematic vision can be frustrating as he is on record as making so many contradictory statements about his work. Here is a director who sees himself as becoming more English as he gets older, yet within the last decade or so he has directed such landmark American films as The Grifters (1990) and The Hi-Lo Country (1998). It is perhaps this rich contrast that keeps Frears' work interesting. His range is remarkable, taking in 1980's social realism, biography, comedy and historical drama within the mediums of film, television and theatre." - Samantha Lay (Contemporary British and Irish Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide, 2001)
“Stephen Frears is one of the finest craftsmen of modern British cinema, and like many artisans he subsumes his personal style to the demands of the material. Whether he's making a contemporary thriller like Dirty Pretty Things (2002) or a period drama like Dangerous Liaisons (1988), he cuts his cinematic cloth to suit the genre… In making himself as director secondary to the writer, there are no saving graces if the script is lacklustre or poor; Frears has no signature style to lift the film or provide temporary relief. His collaborations with talented writers are among his best films, and among his worst.” - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
“After intensive television activity in the 70s, he emerged in the 80s as one of Britain's freshest and most original talents, attracting international acclaim with My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and other unconventional, socially perceptive feature films that were disturbing yet entertaining.” - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012
"Chief among Stephen Frears' attributes are his sensitive handling of actors, as evidenced in the succession of fine performances that grace his films, and his obvious rapport with writers (he has worked successfully with Alan Bennett, Christopher Hampton and Hanif Kureishi). Oddly, these qualities have sometimes worked against him as critics have unfairly seen him as a craftsman rather than an auteur. However, strong themes do emerge in his work, particularly a concern for the downtrodden and marginalised, and in his best work there is frequently an acerbic view of the condition of contemporary Britain." - Robert Shail (British Film Directors, 2007)
"The films of Stephen Frears are brilliant studies of modern Britain. With the exception of Dangerous Liaisons (1988), the best screen version of Choderlos de Laclo's 1782 novel, he has been happiest on home ground." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"One of the 'new generation' of British filmmakers, Frears came to a movie career after having earned a Cambridge law degree. An interest in the stage took him to the Royal Court Theatre, where he eventually made the acquaintance of director Karel Reisz. Reisz offered him an assistant director position on Morgan (1966)." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
“For most of his career, Stephen Frears has straddled several worlds: British and U.S. films, big and low budget, cinema and TV, and any number of different genres. Even more remarkably, he seems to be at home in all of them.” - Philip Kemp (501 Movie Directors)
"Something of a star on his home-grown British cinema circuit (and latterly in the US), Frears is a director of integrity who has the rare capacity to tease out an actor's performance beyond its normal range… His best film is The Grifters (1990), in which he effectively inhabits novelist Jim Thompson's head by unsentimentally portraying a world of small-town, penny ante American con artists who are enmeshed in moral, amoral, and proto-Oedipal relations, far beyond their understanding." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
The Grifters (1990) ✖︎
Recommended
Dangerous Liaisons (1988), High Fidelity (2000) , The Queen (2006)
Worth a Look
A Day Out [TV] (1972), Gumshoe (1972), The Hit (1984), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Hero (1992), The Hi-Lo Country (1998)
Approach with Caution
Bloody Kids [TV] (1980), The Snapper (1993), Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Not Recommended
Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987), Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), Philomena (2013)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Stephen Frears / Favourite Films
The Apartment (1960) Billy Wilder, L'Atalante (1934) Jean Vigo, Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch, The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936) Jean Renoir, The Godfather Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola, The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges, The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Vincente Minnelli, Notorious (1946) Alfred Hitchcock, Ossessione (1943) Luchino Visconti, The Quiet Man (1952) John Ford, Raging Bull (1980) Martin Scorsese, The Third Man (1949) Carol Reed.
Source: Time Out (1995)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    My Beautiful Laundrette
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