Monday, July 05, 2010

Jane Fonda, in Coming Home
approximately 69 minutes and 57 seconds***
55.8% of the film





The film

A woman whose husband is fighting in Vietnam falls in love with another man who suffered a paralyzing combat injury there.

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

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 Fonda as Sally Hyde

All the Hanoi Jane people need to keep their mouth shut! :) We all know Jane was innocent and it was all confusion and a set-up. But even so, I did ask myself: Jane Fonda doing a film about Vietnam and actually voters giving her the Oscar for it? It smells like controversy, but good for her for having the balls to grab the role. I like Jane Fonda and I often find myself visiting her blog. And because I love her acting, I find it a bit hard to criticize her second Oscar win.

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 :))

11 comments:

dinasztie said...

I liked this performance very much from me she could get a 4. But to each his own.

What's the name of Jane Fonda's blog?

Alex in Movieland said...

janefonda.com

obviously :P

Malcolm said...

That's the problem!

Her character was written to be dull, the men did better, she looked bored, way too comfortable in her character that you feel that she's not doing any effort anymore, sex scene is emotionally good because it felt honest.

A performance with very mixed bag.

2.5 or 3 for me.

Malcolm said...

To her credit also, it was quite a brilliant touch of her to have the freezing hands in I think her last scene or it's the climax.

It's so honest and believable. That's when we really get to somewhat grasp what's inside her. That's a very true scene and I love how she handles that.

I just wished she lived up to that for the remaining time.

Alex in Movieland said...

I guess the conclusion is: A good actress can't fully develop a bad written character.

Mike Lippert said...

I saw this movie a month or two ago and really enjoyed it. I didn't see much wrong with Fonda but maybe I wasn't paying attention. I will forever remember the scene with Bruce Dern towards the end where, for a brief second, he just explodes. I can't think of another scene of rage so honest and pure in any other movie. It's a moment to cherish.

Alex in Movieland said...

just like Tobey Maguire in Brothers (such a similar film) I think Bruce Dern took it a bit too far, so I couldn't enjoy his performance and found his scenes very uncomfortable.

but her hands-scene there is pretty good

Runs Like A Gay said...

I think she does a superb job at conveying the change, from typical army wife to a totally independent woman.

Never knew those weren't her boobs though, so I've learnt something today.

Alex in Movieland said...

at least that's what imdb trivia has to say :D

I bet Oscar voters didn't know that :P

hey deanie said...

I love this performance...it requires a lot of actorly restraint on Fonda's part (she doesn't have that usual 'snap'/quickness she had in Klute, TSHDT, The Morning After, etc) and it results in a beautifully understated performance. Thanks for not panning it like so many do these days! Haha.

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