Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jennifer Jones, in Love Letters
approximately 49 minutes and 46 seconds
50.2% of the film

The film

Allen Quinton writes a fellow soldier's love letters; tragedy results. Later, Allen meets a beautiful amnesiac who fears postmen.You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

To put it simply, I thought the film was an uninteresting cliché that seriously lacked suspenseful writing or any reason to keep interested. There’s a good remembering scene towards the end, but even the ending fails by going for hard to believe jolly nonsense.

Jennifer Jones as Victoria Morland / Singleton

By the time this film was released, 26 year old Jennifer Jones was already an Oscar winner for her saintly performance in The Song of Bernadette and was fooling around with Hollywood’s greatest producer. It was her second of many pairings with Joseph Cotten and the idea of the film sounded more than promising: the perfect role for her to use her prettiness and innocent looks. And yet…

Jennifer Jones plays Victoria Morland aka Singleton, the mysterious interest of a man, a young woman who got tricked into marrying the wrong guy, killed him and now suffers from amnesia. She goes by the name of Singleton, doesn’t know her real identity and falls in love with Allen, without knowing he’s in fact the one writing her the love letters that started everything. No worries, I didn’t do any spoilers as all this info is pretty clear/obvious from the beginning.

I think it’s worth starting with the couple of good elements in this performance. First, there’s an hesitation when she first admits her memory loss to Allen; I think this also comes up in other scenes and Jennifer does a good job in acting a certain shame that Victoria feels – she’s often quite apologetic and embarrassed of her situation.

Also, on the good side there’s the big dramatic scene towards the end, when she remembers everything. It’s the most emotional moment in the film, a much needed one I might add. Jennifer brings it all: tears & deep understanding of the character, but if only that lasted. One minute later she loses herself again in the dreadful writing: she hasn’t even had time to process her dramatic memories that she immediately jumps into Cotten’s arms, with a big smile on her face disregarding the previous highly-dramatic moment, only seconds before.

Those good acting moments can’t compensate for the awful truth: Jennifer doesn’t get above the material. Sure, playing someone confronted with memory loss isn’t easy to do, but most of her choices are uninspired. She also gets the typical clichéd lines & monologues for a character in such position and I admit it’s hard to do justice to such unnatural writing.

The performance is inconsistent, unbalanced and handled by an actress who is either poorly guided by her director or just not experienced enough. There are moments when all of the sudden she goes for wide-eyed reactions of Norma Desmond kind, as if it’s suddenly turning into a horror film or a suspense movie – which this film clearly isn’t.

It’s not the worst Best Actress nominee I’ve reviewed in the past 3 years, but it’s there at the bottom in an unfortunate Top 5. I have no hesitation in going for a .


dinasztie said...

Just as I expected.

I fogot to ask but have you seen the Kate Winslet version of Mildred Pierce? I saw only the first episode yet and I loved that one. :)

Alex in Movieland said...

am I that predictable? :)

saw just the first 15 mins of MP. kate seemed nice, but it felt slow, I hated Veda and was not motivated to continue.

Fritz said...

I have to admit that I really liked her in this one (but she is a very incosistent actress overall).

Alex in Movieland said...

I know you're not the only one :) I just can't join this group.

from the ones I've written about (85 to 90 performances so far), to me the 3 least deserving of nominations were, in no particular order:

Louise Dresser - A Ship Comes In
Elizabeth Taylor - Raintree County
Vanessa Redgrave - Morgan!

they easily stand out to me, and JJones is close.

Cal said...

Oh come on - she's not that bad! She could have been so much more over-the-top, and relays Singleton's realisation of crisis with some care.

I have not seen those three you lump her with.

Alex in Movieland said...

of course she's not THAT bad, that's why it's a **. :P