The Top Directors Working Today: Stephen Frears

It's interesting that after Marc Forster, next on my list is Stephen Frears. I think Frears could be Forster 20 years later. His track record is equally erratic. On one hand we have Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters, High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things and The Queen. But in between those we've gotten films like Hero, Mary Reilly and Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Frears is another director with no discernible style beyond an ability to solidly direct occasionally great material. He doesn't attempt to bend genres like Danny Boyle, and some films seem to be pure paycheck jobs. You could argue that his Great films have great scripts, but there's even some arguments about which of his films are the Great ones.

Going against the norm, I think High Fidelity is very sloppy and The Queen is a bit too dry. But I absolutely love Dirty, Pretty Things. I love the script, but I also love the casting, the performances and the tone of the piece. The direction is so Great it leaves me wondering why he isn't that good All The Time. I can only guess that sometimes he cares about a project, and sometimes he just needs to put bread on the table.

So do we forgive him for his weak films and declare him Great, or is it too difficult to discount his failures? Will you see a film just because it's Stephen Frears, or will you wait for the reviews?

According to the poll on

37.5% think he definitely deserves recognition as a Great Director.
37.5% think he's too unpredictible, but give him the benefit of the doubt.
25% feel he's too hit or miss to be trusted.

Frears' name in the credits doesn't do much for me one way or another.

Is he one of the greats? Maybe not but his name attached to a film guarantees a spot for it on my netflix queue... somewhere.


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