The Last of Sheila

Written by Stephen Sondheim (!) and Anthony Perkins (!!), The Last of Sheila follows several Hollywood types as they’re invited to spend a week on an eccentric multi-millionaire’s (James Coburn’s Clinton Green) yacht – where the group will play a murder mystery game that eventually (and perhaps inevitably) turns deadly. It’s clear right from minute one that The Last of Sheila possesses few, if any, attributes designed to capture and sustain the viewer’s interest, as the film, which runs an often interminable 120 minutes, suffers a plodding narrative that’s compounded by a complete lack of compelling or sympathetic central characters – with the movie’s talented roster of performers, including James Mason, Ian McShane, Raquel Welch, and Richard Benjamin, forced into the confines of barely-sketched-out figures that spend much of the picture either arguing or flirting (or, eventually, attempting to solve the hopelessly inert mystery). Filmmaker Herbert Ross’ inability to inject even an ounce of life into this aggressively tedious storyline grows more and more disastrous as time slowly progresses, and it goes without saying, certainly, that the heavy emphasis on monologuing in the film’s third act cements The Last of Sheila‘s place as an utterly misbegotten trainwreck.

1/2* out of ****

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