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Beyond Therapy (film)

Beyond Therapy is a 1987 American comedy film written and directed by Robert Altman, based on the play of the same name by Christopher Durang. It stars Julie Hagerty, Jeff Goldblum, Glenda Jackson, Tom Conti, and Christopher Guest.

Beyond Therapy
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Altman
Written byRobert Altman
Christopher Durang (play)
Music byGabriel Yared
George Gershwin
CinematographyPierre Mignot
Edited by
  • Jennifer Augé
  • Stephen P. Dunn (sup)
Distributed byNew World Pictures
Release date
February 27, 1987 (1987-02-27)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$790,000


The film focuses on Prudence and Bruce, two Manhattanites who are seeking stable romantic relationships with the help of their respective psychiatrists, lecherous Stuart and scatterbrained Charlotte, each of whom suggests the patient place a personal ad. Their first meeting proves to be a disaster, but when they reunite sparks begin to fly. Complications ensue when bisexual Bruce's jealous live-in lover Bob decides to assert himself and do everything possible to maintain his status quo.



According to Durang, both he and Altman wrote separate screenplays. Ultimately, Durang's script was rewritten substantially by Altman with Durang later describing the project as "a very unhappy experience and outcome."[1]

Despite its New York City setting, the film was made in Paris, where director Robert Altman was living at the time.


Siskel & Ebert gave the film "two thumbs down" on their TV program.[2] Ebert, in his print review, gave it one star out of four and called it a film "killed by terminal whimsy. It's a movie in which every scene must have seemed like a lot of fun at the time, but, when they're edited together, there's no pattern to the movie, nothing to build toward, no reason for us to care. It's all behavior."[3] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the film lacked "the kind of inexorable logic that is the fuel of any farce and makes its loony characters so funny ... The performances are good, but the film has been assembled without an overriding sense of humor and style. It remains in bits and pieces."[4] Variety called it "a mediocre film version of Christopher Durang's mediocre play. The difference is that this comedy somehow won a good measure of popular success onstage, whereas the screen version is headed nowhere."[5] Dave Kehr of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one star out of four and wrote, "When Altman goes wrong, he usually goes spectacularly wrong—as in 'Quintet' and 'Health'—but this time he has just gone glumly, crushingly wrong. 'Beyond Therapy' never builds up any genuine energy, direction or swing: It just huffs and puffs and eventually hyperventilates."[6] Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times was positive, praising "three great comic performances" from "the juiciest cast imaginable."[7] Tom Milne of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Beyond Therapy is a scattershot film, even more so than usual with Altman, offering a firework display of one-liners and their visual equivalents, some brilliantly funny, some less successful."[8]

The film presently holds a score of 25% on Rotten Tomatoes based on eight reviews.[9]


  1. ^ Durang, Christopher. "Christopher Durang – Film and TV Writings". Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Siskel & Ebert. Buena Vista Television. March 21, 1987.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 24, 1987). "Beyond Therapy". Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (February 27, 1987). "'Beyond Therapy,' A Match Made in the Ads". The New York Times. C8.
  5. ^ "Film Reviews: Beyond Therapy". Variety. January 28, 1987. 22.
  6. ^ Kehr, Dave (April 24, 1987). "Altman's 'Beyond Therapy' is beyond hope". Chicago Tribune. Section 7, p. K.
  7. ^ Benson, Sheila (February 27, 1987). "'Therapy' Runs Wild with a Cast of Crazies". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 14.
  8. ^ Milne, Tom (October 1987). "Beyond Therapy". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 54 (645): 302.
  9. ^ "Beyond Therapy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 10, 2018.

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