David Hyde Pierce is probably one of my favourite actors working today. I first came across him in Frasier and his character Niles Crane became my favourite in the show. Hyde Pierce has astounding comedy timing and a very understated way of playing a character with so many quirks and tics that in anyone else’s hands it could easily have been overacted. Hyde Pierce holds the record for being nominated for most Best Supporting Actor Emmys for a character, with eleven nominations during Frasier’s eleven year run (he won in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2004). I hadn’t heard of Hyde Pierce’s first starring film role in a 2010 dark comedy called The Perfect Host so when I found out about it it became a must watch.
The Perfect Host is essentially a two-hander with Hyde Pierce playing the titular host, Warwick Wilson. Warwick is about to host a dinner party for a few friends when his door buzzer rings announcing the arrival of John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) a career criminal on the run from the cops after a bank robbery and looking for a place to hide out. Taylor cons his way into Warwick’s home pretending to know one of Warwick’s closest friends and the stage is set for what seems like a fairly ordinary hostage film. However the tables are turned early on when it becomes apparent that Warwick may in fact be the villain of the piece. I won’t go into what happens next as it truly would be spoiler central!
Hyde Pierce seems at first to be playing a version of Niles Crane; an urbane, cultured and intelligent gentleman. However as the film progresses Hyde Pierce really gets a chance to shine as an actor, showing Warwick’s derangement and turning him into a truly disturbing character. For me where the film fell down was the writing. Nick Tomnay wrote and directed the film, adapting the screenplay from a short film he directed previously, and perhaps the idea worked better in a shorter context. When drawn out, the ending is ludicrous and stretches the viewer’s credulity to breaking point. There’s a bizarre doublecross involving Taylor’s girlfriend and Hyde Pierce’s character ends up seeming like an entirely different person.
The Perfect Host is by no means a perfect film but worth watching if like me you’re a fan of the wonderful David Hyde Pierce. He appears to have concentrated on theatre roles in recent years but I’d love to see him in another starring role, this time with a truly great script worthy of his talents.