Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Comedy
  • 1970
  • 116 mins

Hoffman

Hoffman

Synopsis

Bone-dry sex comedy starring Peter Sellers as a middle-aged man who blackmails his soon-to-be-married secretary into sleeping with him for a week

About

In 1970 Hoffman put a fresh spin on the sexual revolution with its story about a middle-aged boss who blackmails his young secretary into spending a week alone with him. Its sharp observations on the theme of youth being wasted on the young struck a chord with the generation who missed out on all the fun.

Thirty years on and Hoffman is, at times, positively creepy. Like Miss Jones (Cusack) we fear the worst and, to begin with at least, the cold, unlovable Mr Hoffman (Sellers) does little to dissuade us of this assumption. He admits to his secretary that he is sexually frustrated, calls women "fallopian tubes with teeth" and when she visits the bathroom tells his quarry to "get ready to be fertilised". Yet, despite all the sexual insinuation it transpires that all Mr Hoffman wants is to be with her, admire her legs as they stand at his kitchen sink and breathe in her smell.

Hoffman is odd; it's also wickedly smart. Slowly, and sweetly, the reasons for all the strange behaviour reveal themselves and the odious Mr Hoffman becomes a moderately likeable human. As the mood lightens so does the comedy - but it is hardly romantic comedy as we know it today. Sellers is at the peak of his powers, wonderful in a bittersweet role that demands him to be both darkly comic and gentle, mournful yet mischievous. Cusack offsets him brilliantly - skittish and ditzy against his hound dog solemnity.

The cinematography is also terrific and often loaded with metaphor, like a small scene when the couple visit the Harrods Food Hall and Cusack, looking innocent and lost, is framed against a backdrop of vast sides of pork. Or the opening titles which, to the soundtrack of Matt Monro, follow Miss Smith on her journey across London to Hoffman's flat.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Ruth Dunning, Sinéad Cusack, David Lodge, Jeremy Bulloch, Peter Sellers
  • Director: Alvin Rakoff
  • Writer: Ernest Gebler
  • Producer: Ben Arbeid
  • Photographer: Gerry Turpin
  • Composer: Ron Grainer

In a nutshell

Despite it's dry humour and bizarre morality Hoffman deserves to be rediscovered.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Gone Too Far

    Gone Too Far

    Two estranged teenage brothers, one who grew up in Nigeria and one who frew up in Peckham, meet for the first time and struggle to accept each other

    On Film4: 10 Jul 11:10PM

  • Film4 The Three Stooges

    The Three Stooges

    The Farrelly Brothers pay tribute to The Three Stooges as Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos bring a new take on Larry, Curly and Moe

  • Film4 Kick Ass

    Summer Action Season 2015 on Film4

    Twelve nights of blockbuster action and adventure, every night from 9 on Film4

  • Film4 Arbitrage

    Arbitrage on Film4

    Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling star in a drama about a hedge fund manager who makes a crucial error while attempting to sell his portfolio

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share