33.5% of the film
A graduating poet/teacher falls in love with a Southern woman, and then the Civil War and her past create problems.
You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.
Liz plays Susanna Drake, a Southern belle with a bit of a troubled past and lots of unresolved trauma, who falls in love with a Yankee and tricks him into marrying her. But as she approaches motherhood, her mental state starts to decline more and more and a tragic ending for her seems unavoidable. As you can tell, the role is very baity, even though she’s not the leading character of the movie, just the wife; a crazy wife, that is. At times, the role’s too much for Liz to handle and more often the messy screenplay doesn’t live up to the potential of the character.
There aren’t many good things about this performance. Sure, Liz looks great and the more seductive, mean girl role fits her. However, she’s at her most annoying when she’s playing nice, overdoing it. Her Southern charms are often overcooked, and I’m not referring to the accent, but to the loud talking and all the mannerism she brings to the performance and the falseness she defines Susanna by.
Some of her confrontation scenes just don’t work. Either she doesn’t understand the character (to be honest, the screenplay doesn’t help her at all) or she doesn’t have the experience at playing this much of a challenging, mature role (yeah, she was a child actor, but that’s a different ball game). Every time she’s in crisis, she puts on the despair, Alzheimerish look that works only once or twice. And her final scenes, right at the ending, feel boring, uncreative and I got the sense I didn’t like (nor found believable) the direction she decided for the character.
There are, however, two good elements/moments about this performance. First is when, during their boat trip after the wedding, Susanna transforms into this racist Southern bitch for a couple of minutes. As I am condemning the character, Liz showed us a bit of her speciality: playing hard bitches and nasty women. It wouldn’t have harmed the performance had she had more cruel scenes in her acting. The second is the madhouse scene, where we see a Susanna that’s beaten down and that has given up on a chance of a normal life. She’s more approachable and it’s probably for the first (and only) time we feel for the character. Not spectacular, but worthy of mentioning.
This is not a performance I liked. I didn’t hate it, nor did I find something terribly wrong, but it has it’s weak parts and a lot of mediocrity. In all fairness, the direction and the screenplay are shit, but sometimes a performance can rise above the material. Liz does it, but not enough. I hesitated on the rating. I’m gonna go with , even though it’s really a 1.5 and this is officially the least satisfying (another word for bad) performance I’ve written about ever since the birth of the blog.