The living arrangement between a listless bachelor and his servant becomes increasingly more menacing in director Joseph Losey 1963 chamber drama.
When an upper-class bachelor moves into a new home, he hires Barrett (Dirk Bogarde), a manservant, to tend to his housekeeping needs. At first, he takes to his subservient role with gusto, soon becoming indispensable. However, Barrett soon finds an adversary in his master’s new girlfriend who from the outset just doesn’t like the cut of his jib. And soon a series of sly manipulations and minute power plays begin to destabilise the power dynamics.
And what a house! With interiors filmed in-studio, The Servant is a masterclass in cinematography and set design. The claustrophobic bachelor pad is a character unto itself, with mirrors that distort, bannisters that imprison and bookcases that conceal other rooms, it’s almost as if characters emerge and retreat back into the closet.