Tribute to Campbell Scott
Screening of His New Film
The Dying Gaul
June 28, 2005
Lincoln Center

Written by Frank J. Avella

Professionally Designed Postcards - $99

Joan Allen, Campbell Scott and Craig Lucas

According to writer/director, Craig Lucas, no one would do Longtime Companion (1990). No one except Campbell Scott who actually wanted to be in it. And anyone who has seen the film (still the best film to deal with AIDS) knows that if there was any justice in the movie world, Scott would have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Alas, he wasn’t. And even after his remarkable, award-winning turn in Roger Dodger (2002) he was still passed over.

In 1991 there was an attempt to tinseltown-bitchcrown him with the Julia Roberts weepy Dying Young and, as good as he was, the film flopped saving Scott from potential Jude Law-leading-man-limbo-land. Hollywood’s loss proved to be the cinema lover’s gain as Scott secured his spot in indiefilmland.

His eclectic work stands on it’s own and his astonishing talents can be viewed in such films as: Singles (1992); Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994); Big Night (1996--also co-directed by Scott); The Day Trippers (1997); The Spanish Prisoner (1997) and The Secret Lives of Dentists (2004). In addition to Big Night, he’s shown his directorial mettle in Hamlet (2000), Final (2001) and this year’s amazing Off the Map.

The world premiere of his latest masterperformance in The Dying Gaul (see review below) allowed Lincoln Center’s YOUNG FRIENDS OF FILM to honor the still-very young Scott last month (June 28th) at the Walter Reade Theater.

The guest list included his co-stars: Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard; Craig Lucas, Mary-Louise Parker, Joan Allen and a slew of Baldwins (Alec, included).

The gala culminated in a black tie cocktail reception where the truly modest and sincerely gracious Mr. Scott spent the evening giving interviews and chatting with tribute attendees/admirers.

With so many tributes being bestowed nowadays on each and every actor who sells movie tickets, regardless of talent, it is refreshing to see someone as craft-conscious and gifted as Campbell Scott get the recognition he deserves. Kudos to Lincoln Center for the celebration and kudos for Scott for being brilliantly discerning in his career choices.

Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard

Craig Lucas'
The Dying Gaul
Lincoln Center Tribute to Campbell Scott


Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

The Dying Gaul represents the impressive directorial debut of acclaimed playwright, Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless). Lucas, who has also penned a few screenplays (Longtime Companion, The Secret Lives of Dentists) seems a natural behind the camera and his filmic initiation is, for the most part, a triumph.

The Dying Gaul (adapted by Lucas from his stage play) is simultaneously an indictment of the avarice and hedonism of Hollywood as well as a meditation on the dangers of deception, self and otherwise.

Peter Sarsgaard plays Robert, a struggling screenwriter who finally snags an opportunity to sell a script and pocket a million dollars. The problem is that the studio insists he change a key character from male to female, killing any homosexual angle and, in turn, bastardizing and commercializing Robert’s very personal project.

Robert eventually capitulates and finds himself sexually seduced by Jeffrey (Campbell Scott), the powermad studio head and they embark on a toxic affair despite the fact that Jeffrey has a wife, Elaine (Patricia Clarkson) and two children.

Through an enveloping and elaborate set of plot points, Elaine discovers that Robert and Jeffrey are having an affair, sparking a series of astonishing and shattering events that forever change our three protagonists.

The success of the film hinges on the strength of the three lead actors and Lucas is savvy enough to have cast his work to perfection.

Peter Sarsgaard is playfully sexy, intensely intriguing and downright creepy as the grieving writer, who proves, ironically, to be the ultimate survivor.

Indie queen and thesp-extraordinaire, Patricia Clarkson, tackles the complex role of fascinated friend/scorned wife with admirable aplomb and is fearlessly triumphant in etching a nuanced portrait of a frustrated artist forced into stagnation.

The most difficult role is that of Jeffrey and the genius in Campbell Scott’s portrayal is that he could have easily opted for the cliche’s normally associated with a studio head (greedy, artistically-challenged, non-intellectual). Instead, Scott gives us an authentic person who has become morally bankrupt by the Hollyworld he must exist in yet someone who isn’t quite lost yet. Jeffrey struggles with dual nature, artistically and sexually. in many respects, he’s a true bisexual. He is a control freak who is, himself, spinning out of control--and Scott knows just when to turn it up and then tone it down. It is a deeply penetrating and affecting performance.

The Dying Gaul is a visual feast. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski exquisitely captures the chilly, spiritually-vapid world of contemporary Hollywood.

Lucas proves to be such an assured director (the continuous sense of foreboding is downright chilling) that one can forgive the all-too abrupt ending followed by a coda that should have had more of a sting.

Regardless, he and the Gaul crew should be commended for creating a devastating piece of cinema that never compromises. And how rare is that in the U.S. in 2005?



© New York Cool 2004-2014