Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ellen Burstyn, in Resurrection
approximately 77 minutes and 1 second
79.8% of the film

The film

It tells the story of a woman who survives the car accident which kills her husband, but discovers that she has the power to heal other people.

You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

The movie starts well, as a mixture of drama and spirituality and after life, but after 1 hour it goes downhill, especially the screenplay. It’s a pity. The best thing about it: Maurice Jarre’s music which would’ve deserved Oscar recognition.

Ellen Burstyn as Edna

It’s not very often that a performance coming from a fantasy/sci-fi/horror movie gets recognition here. I actually didn’t keep track, but it’s easy to tell. Sigourney Weaver got it for Aliens, Ellen Burstyn for The Exorcist… and again for this little movie called Resurrection. It’s not really a fantasy, but it deals with afterlife, so there’s a paranormal thing going on. However, the easiest explanation for the nom is the dramatic requirement of the role, the personal experience of a normal woman dealing with change.

Ellen plays Edna, a 40-something married woman who after a sudden accident becomes a widow and a paraplegic. While almost experiencing death, she wakes up with a strange (energy) power of healing, both herself and others. It’s a good idea of a role, with the potential of a good performance, at it demands a lot: going through the real dramatic part, making the healing look believable and not overdoing the dialogue. And I can say that Burstyn does a very fine job, at least in the first 2/3rds of it.

Her most solid moments come in portraying the suffering Edna; she had lost her husband and she’s now in a wheelchair. The hospital scenes are good and there’s a great one at the cemetery with her saying goodbye to him. Ellen can see the truth in this simple woman, so the daily-life scenes are among the best.

The healing part doesn’t require big, flashy reactions from Ellen. She just closes her eyes and uses, through her hands, a power which is invisible to us. However, she does make it believable and it’s also because of her generally calming presence. She is very reassuring and although she represents the paranormal element of the film, she’s at the same time the person/actress who keeps it grounded. It’s all because we trust Burstyn and the character she’s creating.

That’s a plus for the understanding of the film, because it becomes pretty obvious early on that she’s the one carrying the whole picture on her back. By creating a relatable character, she sells Resurrection to us, the first part of it, that is. Her flashiest scene is the big healing one, a difficult case where we practically see Burstyn taking upon herself the sickness of the patient. It’s a well-planned acting moment, which doesn’t seem fake at all.

However, my favourite acting scene of hers is while saying goodbye to her grandmother towards the ending of the movie. A great scene partner helps and Burstyn is able to take us back to Edna’s daily-life emotions from the first part; her teary eyes seem so genuine and her honest acting creates a loving, natural, relatable scene: saying goodbye to someone you love and acknowledging you’ll probably never see them again.

And then there’s the downfall: the final 10 minutes make for an almost ridiculous ending. The old Edna looks like a witch. Beyond the unconvincing makeup, Burstyn fails in making us believe that decades have passed. It’s an incredibly bad and uninspired take which kills any side of believability. Just because you put on a wig (but no wrinkles) doesn’t mean 20-30 years have passed; it really was an unfortunate soap-opera move.

Burstyn does a fine job in creating a simple woman, dealing with too many new elements in her life. There IS a character arc and her presence throughout the film makes the whole power thing seem believable. It’s a relatable character and she’s nicely selling the film, except for the last part, where she really drops the ball. I give her , being more of a 2.5. I could totally understand why someone would see this more like a 2, but because she puts soul into it and I enjoyed the first part, I thought about being a bit generous.

***EDIT: As stated at the 100th profile celebration (HERE), Ellen's performance has been downgraded to  . :( Mostly for that terrible acting at the ending. 


joe burns said...

So will this be 4 or 5 on your ranking?

Alex in Movieland said...

it's just the 2nd analyzed performance :) i dunno. but one of these seats seems probable

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I like how you talk about the audience being able to trust her. Right on. And that aging picture...laughable.

Tom said...

Nice review. I've always wanted to see this film.