View your saved tickets

DCA Archive

Ciné Sunday: Stan & Ollie

Jon S. Baird

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are one of cinema’s most beloved double acts, but under the direction of Jon S. Baird (Filth) and with a screenplay by Jeff Pope (Philomena), this film looks beyond the legend to help bring the men themselves and their deep friendship to life.

"A funny, affectionate love letter to two celebrated performers and to the joys of comedy..."

Steve Coogan plays Stan Laurel, while an unrecognisable John C. Reilly stars as Oliver Hardy, both of whom lean into the physicality of their roles with admirable gusto. After an introduction to the stars at the height of their Hollywood fame, the story jumps forward in time to show us Laurel and Hardy at a low ebb in their career. Middle-aged and out of fashion, they embark upon a tour of Britain, playing to small audiences in creaky venues. The comedians are soon joined by their wives, who themselves are a kind of double act in their own right. Nina Arianda (Florence Foster Jenkins) plays Ida, a former dancer and Laurel’s brusque Russian wife, while Shirley Henderson plays the affectionate Lucille Hardy. As the tensions between the veteran performers come to the fore, so too does their obvious admiration for each other and their devotion to simply making each other, and audiences, laugh.

Coogan and Reilly are wonderful as the iconic pair, never devolving into parody or impersonation, even as real life begins mirroring the farces for which they are famous. Offering a look at two stars in the twilight of their career, this is a funny, affectionate love letter to two celebrated performers and to the joys of comedy itself.