Gene Tierney as Ellen Berent Harland
Gene plays Ellen Berent, a beautiful, rich, smart, charming young woman who falls in love with a kind writer, but her insane jealousy pushed her into crazy, unjustified actions like allowing his
kid brother to die or hurting herself just to get what she wants. It sounds like an interesting role, right? Well, it's not, because for the most of it it’s the most boring interpretation of such a persona.
I think the biggest problem with Gene’s and the director’s take on Ellen is that they can’t decide who they want this woman to be: either a complete lunatic, a psycho – and then it might justify her actions in a more clinical way; or a nice woman who just can’t control her obsession – which would be fine, only that she clearly isn’t, in this story. No regular jealous woman would do the things Ellen does. I refuse to believe that. They’ve chosen the middle path: a sometimes well-intended woman who does horrific stuff – it NEVER works, and it kills any interest I might have in the story.
So the fact is that Gene gets punk’d by the director and the writer and somehow she isn’t willing to take Ellen’s madness far enough in the construction of the character, so that it would justify
her actions. By not risking it, she almost completely loses the believability of this woman, any sense of empathy, any understanding that the audience might have.
Sure, Gene is pretty, and she’s never visibly bad in the role. But the performance lacks courage, Gene plays it safe and delivers a character that too often looks like it’s sleepwalking through the film. Her best acting moment is when she turns a bit bitchy: the lake scene, played with a chilling villain attitude and when served with such lines as After all, he’s a cripple – that feel in the spirit of the character, are delivered the right way, but too few to count.
To me it’s not a bad performance, but a lazy one. You might get some seconds of potential greatness when the camera’s focused on her face, but overall the performance lacks vitality, courage, an understanding of the character and most of all: believability. I have no problem in giving it a . Anyway, I know the performance has its fans, it’s just how I see it. She does play arrogance to perfection, always did – I’ll give her that.