August 18, 1996 | 98 minutes
Back in the mid-1990s, actress Kyra Sedgwick had been fielding offers from cable networks to develop a movie for herself. Her husband, actor Kevin Bacon, had long contemplated trying his hand at directing. Neither could find the right project. “I generally had a bad attitude about the whole thing,” said Sedgwick to the Los Angeles Times in 1996. “I just fell in love with it. I called [the writer] Anne Meredith and asked if she had any interest in giving it to me for free to take to a few cable companies, because I told her I was not going to be able to get it made into a feature because it would take too long. I didn’t think I had enough clout then to warrant making a feature anyway.” Over the years, Bacon says, producers had approached him to direct “rock videos, half-hour TV, sometimes cable, if I was going to act in it. I just really wanted to wait until I had a script and a story I wanted to tell.” Bacon read “Losing Chase” simply because he and Sedgwick always read each other’s projects. “For some reason, I am not quite sure why, this kind of spoke to me,” he says. “I sort of was able to picture the movie as I read it. I decided to do this one.”
The shooting schedule for “Losing Chase” was a hectic 20 days. “It was an insane schedule,” Bacon recalls. “I mean, we have these things called sides where the day’s shooting schedule and pages from the script are printed up and handed to you. On a feature, it’s like 2 or 3 pages a day. Here, I would get the pages and it would look like a book – eight big scenes and, like, two little ones. It was running and gunning.” Bacon discovered that directing actors is “really a terrifying proposition. It is the one thing I didn’t realize – that directing is a strangely vulnerable place to be, because you are always kind of thinking that the actors are going to turn around and say, ‘That is the stupidest piece of direction that anybody has ever given me.’ I know that being an actor is a vulnerable place to be, so I was very sensitive to what it was they were going through.”
“Losing Chase” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996 and was broadcast on Hallmark in August of the same year. The drama received critical praise for both its performances and Kevin Bacon’s directorial debut. The Los Angeles Times wrote that “in the hands of a lesser actress Chase might seem a little underwritten, but the role gives Mirren plenty of space to suggest by the sheer force of her presence the plight of a woman of tremendous individualistic spirit who nonetheless felt compelled, as have millions of other women, to marry a nice, devoted, none-too-imaginative man “just to fit in,” only to feel her life suffocating her. Mirren is just the actress to persuade us that Chase could evolve from a haggard, hateful wretch to a stable, attractive woman. Chase also proves strong enough to enable Elizabeth to confront her own troubled past.” For her performance as Chase, Helen Mirren won the Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV. The film received nominations for Motion Picture Made for Televison and Best Actor (Beau Bridges). Due to its critical success, “Losing Chase” received a limited theatrical release in 1997.
Although “Losing Chase” received rave reviews and awards, I didn’t enjoy the film very much. Kevin Bacon’s directorial debut is filled with good performances, but the story feels loaded and probably appeals more to women than to men. I found the character of Chase being highly unsymphatetic. Its being noted that she has suffered a nervous breakdown – a continuing depression would be a better description. It’s part of Chase and might explain some of her behaviour. Still, I found the character unbearable. If Chase was a man, the character of the caretaker would have left the building after ten minutes. The film packs a bunch of themes like depression and then later a homosexual love whereas one of these topics would have been enough. The critical reception has been very positive – it even received a theatrical release after its television broadcast, so I guess my mixed feelings are the minorty. It’s not a bad film, just not among my favorites.
Awards and Nominations for Helen Mirren
★ Golden Globe – Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
★ CableACE Award – Actress in a Movie or Miniseries