Ben Oliver

Banner image for The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple

Who sends a suicide telegram?
27 July 2020

Felix, an uptight, neurotic man (Jack Lemmon) breaks up with his wife and considers suicide. His friends at his poker game try to dissuade him, and one of them (Walter Matthau) suggests they live together. Their two personalities clash.

This is a stage play adaptation that makes little effort to actually be a film. For instance, the men sit on the back half of the poker table only, always facing the audience. Some might call it simplicity, others laziness.

It doesn’t matter when the end result is this good.

The Odd Couple often leans on over-acting from the leads but it at its core lies a realistic relationship. The way the friends react to the news of Felix’s attempted suicide—say nothing, act casual—seems cold but here it’s written to show off that unspoken pact often found in male friendships.

It’s a twisted brotherhood where the members loathe each other but look out for each other. It’s there from the start, rather than being something that develops over the course of the story. The characters begin in the final third of their story arc, and it gives us the whole film to really get into the nitty gritty of their relationship.

The friction between Lemmon and Matthau causes sparks that don’t fade out. You don’t want it to end. That along with a great supporting cast and a sharp script make for a great couple of hours.