It felt ok and important the first time, but the second time it was a pain in the ass to watch and count Jane’s screentime. I can’t say why, it just looked even more dated and just not the kind of film to make for a fun movie experience. But what I did notice again: Jon Voight is great in this, as it’s probably his best performances.
Jane plays Sally Hyde, a good, shy, decent married woman whose husband, a Captain, goes to fight in Vietnam. Due to a game of circumstances, Sally volunteers at a local hospital for wounded soldiers and befriends Luke, an angry wheelchair bound person who ends up becoming her lover. The film is both a love triangle and an anti-war political movie; but, I realize now, from a certain perspective, it’s about the changes in a woman’s life and spirit!
There are at least two big elements working against Jane’s performance: and, in a strange way, none has to do with her precise acting. First, there’s the matter of casting. Jane Fonda has GREAT chemistry with Jon Voight and they make for a loving, touching, believable couple. But I did feel like the role was written for a younger actress, maybe in her late 20s. It’s because the ingenuity of Sally interacts strangely sometimes with Jane’s mature expression; it just doesn’t feel right and it affects the likeability of the performance.
The other element giving me a negative feel was the character itself, which has to be the least interesting one of the film. Jane is above the character and the writing, but even so: how much can you do with limited dialogue creativity and moments of just standing there. Strangely, it feels like Sally has nothing to do with the war; the conflict of her character is purely sentimental. Is this what makes it less appealing? Jane gets the boring scenes and has to work twice as hard to express something.
Believe it or not, there is good stuff in the performance: the change of the character is believable and Jane gracefully shows up the independent woman Sally becomes. You notice it not just in the hair style, but also in the movement and the self-image of the character. She nails the character arc! And who could deny her beautiful, emotional face? Those eyes do most of the work, especially in scenes where the writing really doesn’t live up.
The scene with the two of them together on the beach before they separate is emotional and beautifully played by both actors. However, her best moment has got to be the orgasm scene and I’m NOT being ironic; it has to be one of the most believable (and that’s important) sex scenes I’ve ever seen in a non-porn.
Jane got to play vulnerable many times before and I just adored her in Julia, but that was the mature woman feeling vulnerable in a tense situation. Here, her character is much less interesting and rather dull. The casting is shaky, the character is ignored by the screenplay despite being the lead, and even so: Jane still manages a good performance, touching at times. It most certainly didn’t deserve the win and it’s hardly her best acting hour! But Jane is good and I feel comfortable with .
***Jane got a body double for most of the sex scene, so considering it wasn’t her on camera, I’ve mostly counted the voice time and less the boobs showing :))