Hard Knock Life

No Pay, Nudity

by Hope Madden

Director (Ohio’s own) Lee Wilkof and screenwriter Ethan Sandler tap into years of collective wisdom from the inside to create a bittersweet, in-the-know glimpse at the near-thankless life of the workaday actor.

Gabriel Byrne, low key but excellent, is Lester Rosenthal – or Lawrence Rose, as the old playbill would have read. He’s having a hell of a time, as his longtime friend Hershel (Nathan Lane) explains to us via narration.

He’s a New York actor. An aging one whose dog just died, who hasn’t worked too steadily since that soap opera killed him off a few years back, who whiles away his days with similarly stagnant thesps in the Actors’ Equity Lounge, who may be willing to accept the role as King Lear’s Fool – in Dayton.

A mash note to the beleaguered actor in it for the long haul, No Pay, Nudity hits more often than it misses. The filmmakers possess a clear, lived-in knowledge of this world, this life. The yarn they spin is as empathetic as it is frustrated, and Byrne effortlessly embodies this embittered, wearied soul.

The premise is a bit slight and the resolution a tad rushed, but Wilkof and company make up for most of that with insight and affection to spare.


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