A splendid adaptation by Peter Nichols from his play, simpatico direction by Peter Medak and stellar playing combine to make A Day in the Death of Joe Egg a superior black comedy-drama about a young couple trying to cope with a spastic child.
Lachrymal but unsentimentalized, the gut moral issue is euthanasia. The almost surreal narrative unfolds yo-yo style – from bitter or hilarious (or both) humor to emotional wrench and back again, repeatedly. Medak achieves this with seemingly unerring timing and balance.
Alan Bates and Janet Suzman as the couple who play games to survive their nightmare are firstrate in their sardonic despair. Joe Egg is less about their defective moppet than the struggle of their own connubial existence, the often foiled appetite for carnal contact, and their very sanity.