Friday, June 27, 2008

Julie Christie, Away from Her

I'm very honoured that my first profile is about Julie Christie's performance. Not just because it's a good performance. Not just because she was a sex kitten & a gorgeous woman. Not just because Al Pacino loves her. But because I truly think of her as one of the greatest actresses ever, always mysterious to me, charming and seductive. And once every ten years or so she gives a fabulous performance like the one we're gonna talk about...

approximately 49 minutes and 28 seconds
48.5 % of the film
Away from Her
A man coping with the institutionalization of his wife because of Alzheimer's disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, who, just like her, is a patient at the nursing home.

Unlike Julie's performance, I found the movie to be less interesting on a second viewing. When she's not around (because she's more of a co-lead) it doesn't work out that well.
The movie gravitates around the husband who's trying to cope with the fact that his wife is becoming a totally different person.
It's a classic Alzheimer story and it could easily work as a Hallwark movie. At times, I didn't buy the over-hyped direction of Sarah Polley and the Oscar nominated screenplay had some scenes that were too explanatory for me.

The camerawork, Julie & the ending made it to be a journey worthwhile.

Julie Christie as Fiona Anderson

It's a simple start for an apparently simple story. In the first 5 minutes, Julie's Fiona takes the frying-pan and doesn't know what to do with it. So she puts it in the freezer. This is the unrefined clue that something bad is about to happen.

It is just the first of many lost glances that will define Fiona throughout the film. Julie does the whole lost & Alzheimer thing with great talent, and it all looks so efortless (which is probably why she lost the Oscar).

Fiona loves her husband, but it's more to her that meets the eye. As she's slowly diving into forgetfulness, some memories about her husband cheating on her years ago just won't go away. In the first part of the film, Julie decides to alternate Fiona's long glances with moments of unexpected sincerity. With just one look, she can blame him for all his mistakes from the past. All the malice is justified in the story by the development of the disease.

If there's something good about Sarah Polley's direction is that she loves close-ups. For us, that's a blessing because it allows Julie to glow & quietly demonstrate us that she knows exactly what she's doing with the character. She is Fiona, as she capably maneuvers each of her face expressions.

Fiona seems calm and resigned with her disease, but this is until, at the nursing home, she has to say goodbye to her husband, as he won't be allowed to see her for a month. We've felt her vulnerability before, but now we see Fiona's first tears, as she tries to stay strong for her sake and especially her husband's.

Now, I don't like to spoil movies (maybe someone who hasn't seen it will read this), so I won't say much about the second half of Julie's performance.

But as the Alzheimer becomes more and more serious, Fiona goes into deeper emotions. From a schoolgirl smile, to a heartbreaking expression on her face, and to a river of tears.

Obviously, it's all done with perfect grace and it all seems natural, there's nothing overacted, nothing fake about Julie's performance; from the grey of her hair to the honesty of her reactions, the way she moves and talks.

That's why I give her a maximum of

1 comment:

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