Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Joanne Woodward, in The Three Faces of Eve
approximately 68 minutes and 50 seconds
80.1% of the film
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The film
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A doctor treats a woman suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder.
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You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

Watching it again made me realize how naive this movie feels at times. And I go like: yeah, but it’s 1957… so I guess that means it’s pretty dated and it might not seem that fascinating today. Yet nothing really bad about it.
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Joanne Woodward as Eve White/Eve Black/Jane

I am a bit fascinated by Joanne, by her looks, her choice in men :P , her friendly, yet classy, distinguished way of acting. She is quite young here and not that experienced as an actress; this element might actually help the performance, as I think the role requires a fresh face to make it feel believable. Needless to say, this is one of the baitiest types of roles an actress could ever get; multiple personality screams Oscar, not just because of one tormented soul, but because of the wide (often full) range of emotions you get to show on screen.


However, a strange thing happens with this performance: because the film is so low key, posing as a simple docudrama, with a simple plot and limited characters, the performance borrows some of the modesty & restraint that the film show. Don’t get me wrong: Joanne is the centre of the film and, as I’ll mention it, she’s way above average, but this study called The Three Faces of Eve is so simply presented that days after seeing it I remember it more as a poor documentary and it takes a lot away from the leading performance.

Joanne’s biggest acting challenge here was to not let it look pathetic. The result is a very well balanced & calculated performance, a success for as much as the screenplay allowed it to be. I congratulate Joanne for making the three personalities feel distinctive. It’s to her credit that the technical part of the performance works so well.

My favourite one was obviously the 2nd personality, Eve Black: a playful, flirty young woman, a bit mean, who always speaks her mind and really knows how to have fun. Joanne’s fresh look and youth are helping her make the change and she totally nails the fun side of the character, making the entire film look less grim. Eve White, the first and regular personality, is a simple, sad woman and Jane, the 3rd one, is a real lady, a balance between the other two. How convenient, right? :)


Joanne’s dramatic talent is undeniably present. I remember now two moments, a small one and a big splash, that prove the acting skills. There’s a scene when her stupid, unsupportive husband blames her, Eve White, for her own disease. Her answer is heartbreaking and honest: I can’t help it; Joanne does a terrific job in displaying Mrs. White’s incapacity of controlling these personalities and her desperation as she witnesses her life fading away.

The other one is the big flashy moment at the end; it’s supposed to be the moment that blows us away and it’s good, not that mind-blowing, but a solid one woman show moment. It’s where we see the leading character changing personalities one after the other in an important revealing scene. Joanne is excellent alternating these 3 women and the scene is quite Oscar-baity, with tears & screaming; but it’s not exaggerated, and Joanne balances it and restrains it as much as the screenplay allows her to.


No doubt, the performance is at least good and a very memorable effort and breakthrough from an actress that I consider one of the most interesting of her generation. I had the feeling Joanne was in control and she did save the film from chaos. Her performance is excellent in the technical department, but how about more emotion? There are such scenes, but truth is: in the end I didn’t really care that much what happened to her. I felt sorry for Mrs. White, but there wasn’t a real emotional connection between me and all these personalities of hers. Then again: a very good effort. .

4 comments:

Encore Entertainment said...

I totally feel that three. I felt it could have been a four, but something was just off. McCabe & Mrs. Miller remains as my favorite Joanne.

Alex in Movieland said...

that's Julie Christie! :D

but McCabe & Mrs. Miller is cool anyway.

Encore Entertainment said...

Oh crap. That was so silly. The amount of time I've mixed them up...and that's not joking. It's not like they resemble...[Julie all the way]. I meant Mr and Mrs Bridge though... [lol]

Alex in Movieland said...

I remember her being quite good in Mrs. Bridge even though I expected more (same with Rachel, Rachel and Summer Wishes Winter Dreams - why do I always tend to expect much more from her?!). But Mrs Bridge was a total bore as a movie, there was nothin' happening