Seize the Day

Director: Fielder Cook
Screenwriters: Saul Bellow, Ronald Ribman

Institute History

  • 1987 Sundance Film Festival


Powerfully evoked, with an unforgettable dramatic performance by Robin Williams, perhaps the best of his career, Seize the Day follows the efforts of 40-year-old Tommy Wilhelm as he struggles to find some evidence of humanity in a seemingly uncaring and materialistic world, filled with duplicity.

After quitting his job as a traveling salesman, he is forced to go to New York to find work. With a marriage in turmoil, a sweetie on the side, and ice-cold father withholding his ability to help, and an inner sense of futility, Tommy descends deeper in the abyss of despair. Until he meets Tamkin (Jerry Stiller), a self-styled doctor who temporarily provides the warmth and empathy lacking in his life. Based on Nobel prize-winning novelist Saul Bellow’s book (amazingly, the first adaptation of his work for film), this is a relentless, uncompromising and powerful work.

— Lawrence Smith

Screening Details


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