I have a weakness for Interiors, because it’s that great combination of the depth of a good Woody Allen drama and a style that has yet to be matched by an American film. Woody takes some great Ingmar Bergman elements and creates a cool, arrogant, sophisticated drama.
What does screentime mean for a performance? I used to write more about it, because I do feel that it’s an important element influencing the performance as a whole. Even if you have the ability to tell everything about a character with a 5 seconds look, you still need minutes and minutes to really create a solid material eligible for a Best Actress title. Some get a lot of screentime and do nothing (good) with it. Others, like Geraldine Page here, get little time on screen but manage to definitely make an impression in just 19 minutes (for MORE on 1978’s screentime, check the Final Conclusions next week, I’ll have some space reserved for an analysis on this subject).
Much-respected actress Geraldine Page plays Eve, a cold, emotionally distant, rich woman with a huge passion and a talent for interior decorating. When her husband leaves her, Eve goes through a series of nervous breakdowns, becomes emotionally unstable and unsuccessfully tries to find a new meaning in life. The character is mostly a mystery, but still relatable. She is presented through the eyes of her daughters and, even though she is not present onscreen, she is the character people revolve around.
To have a character that is justifiably on everyone’s mind throughout the film, you must be able to create a really fascinating person. Eve IS that character and she is constructed to be as stylish as the wonderful interiors she creates. Looking at her, I thought of a lady, of high-class, coldness and arrogance, which perfectly fit those rooms she lives in and the beautiful things she likes. Even if she wasn’t the first choice to play Eve, Geraldine seems very fit for the character. She has that royal quality, she inspires respect, but you can also see her as a cold person, distant, maybe even a bit crazy. I like her matriarchal persona.
Moving away from the image of Eve, I look for the interiors of the character. I’m not sure how Eve was like before her breakdown, but I guess not that different. Geraldine has an interesting, risky take on the character: Eve talks like in a whisper, yet often changes her mood during a dialogue. There’s a delicacy to her way of being which seems exaggerated at times, but I can understand it: it just underlines and feeds the frailty, the vulnerability of Eve.
I think her best acting moments are when she’s constantly arguing with her daughter Joey and, most of all, her 1 minute nervous breakdown next to the window. She suddenly starts crying and I was quite empathetic because I’ve been to that dark place and the way Geraldine constructs the moment seems so fit for the character and yet a bit embarrassing (which is good), uncomfortable for that certain moment when everyone’s around.
I’ve mentioned risky earlier, because Eve ends up being very theatrical as a person. There are moments when I’m wondering if she’s more of a drama queen than a really sick person. Is she a victim, a sick person or is she just incredibly spoiled and arrogant? I don’t know the answer.
However, even if Eve is not a likeable person, I can understand her emotions. Which leaves me quite confused about the performance: it’s cold enough to fit the tone of the film and with one smile Geraldine can show a different side of the character. But I had moments when I was like: who is this woman making strange faces, maybe a bit crazy? Was Geraldine overacting or was she just incredibly INTO the character and properly playing the emotionally-disturbed card? I’m quite confused and find it impossible to judge. I’m going with , as I don’t find it brilliant and more than a 3 would make uncomfortable. I love Interiors, but I’m trying not to get carried away with everything.
P.S.: How haunting is her presence in her last scene? Ghostly, very inspired.
*** I didn’t count some of those seconds in the water scene, where I’m sure they used a stunt double.