Final Act

Harris shines in his last role

In his final screen appearance, Richard Harris is every inch a kingpin. Updating Shakespeare's King Lear as a Liverpool crime drama, director/co-writer Don Boyd casts Harris as Sandeman, a feared mob boss who responds to the death of his wife (Lynn Redgrave) by attempting to donate his fortune to his three daughters. After his gift is spurned by his ex-druggie youngest (Emma Catherwood), the estate goes to the bitter brothel madam (Louise Lombard) and slutty soccer-club owner (Lorraine Pilkington). Tragedy ensues. Despite borrowing every character and major plot point from Lear, Boyd merely credits Shakespeare as "inspiration." But what inspiration justifies transforming duplicitous Edmund into a wishy-washy vice cop or noble France into a sadistic, crippled black drug lord? A baffling subplot involving smuggling drugs inside Danish cows falls flat, and if you're going to alter the Bard's ending, you'd better have a good alternative. Boyd does not. But as the film around him slips into unintentional parody, Harris remains a rock, shuffling in a smart black trench coat through Liverpool's urban decay. His voice is raspy and his posture slightly stooped, but the twinkle of humor and intelligence in his eyes triumphs over the character's descent into madness. Conjuring up poignant memories of the rakish Young Turk he once was, Harris' performance is a fitting valedictory.

My Kingdom screens as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival at the Lido Theater, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach, (949) 253-2880; www.newportbeachfilmfest.com. Tues., 8 p.m. $8.

 
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