Sunday, August 28, 2011

Geraldine Page, in The Trip to Bountiful
approximately 72 minutes and 44 seconds
69.3% of the film

The film

Set in the 1940s, it tells the story of an elderly woman, Carrie Watts, who wants to return home to the small town where she grew up.

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

It wouldn’t be much of a film without Geraldine Page in it. The supporting actors deliver boring, uninspired performances, the screenplay loses its track towards the ending, so it’s up to Geraldine to pick up the pieces. Should only be recommended as a study of master class performance.

Geraldine Page as Carrie Watts

When remembering great actress from the old days, not enough people mention Geraldine Page, who seems to have had a great career in theatre and definitely a splendid one on screen. Just by looking at her Oscar nominated roles you can see some incredible diversity in the roles played. She received her 8th Oscar nomination for The Trip to Bountiful, 32 years after the first one, and her final nomination as she died in 1987. It’s a fantastic performance to end an impressive career.

Geraldine plays Carrie Watts, a widow living with her son and a very dislikeable daughter-in-law in a small apartment in Houston. She has a very cheerful, lively personality and all she dreams of is to escape that place and go back to her home town of Bountiful, to her house that she hasn’t seen in 20 years. She manages to get away and sets on a trip that will bring back a lot of memories from the past. It’s a very dramatic role, not so much in the actual writing, but in the opportunity it gives Geraldine to bring her A-game.

When I first saw it a couple of days ago, I was a bit frustrated with the film and especially the story. First, to get it out of the way, I think it’s an EXCELLENT performance. But it annoyed me that the screenplay didn’t give us the ending that we, and Geraldine, deserved. The performance and the story build a lot towards her getting to Bountiful, but those last 30 minutes are probably the most ignorable scenes Geraldine has to do. Maybe she knew that, that’s why she prepared the big punches from the first half of the film.

Words cannot describe the acting experience that can be found in this performance. I’ve noticed it even more the second time I saw it. Geraldine takes an old lady character and completely brings it to life, creating such a relatable likeable person that I rooted for the whole film. Difficult dialogue never stops her, and the overreacting, worrying, maternal feeling, resignation – all these are beautifully shown in the performance. When the camera is on her face with her delivering some short monologue, that’s very close to acting perfection.

Every gesture is perfectly calculated but so well delivered it comes off as the most natural thing, so recognizable, so fit for this character. Geraldine makes it become not just a film about a trip, but a film in which you can easily tell the backstory of the character, the rich emotional life this woman has lived, the drama of getting old and losing those around you. I can write so much about it, but if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.

Her best acting moment is in the bus scenes and a particular one is truly heartbreaking. If you’ve seen it, you might remember her confessing to the young woman that she never loved her husband. The pain of the character while remembering the emotional suffering is so brilliantly played it’s definitely hard to forget.

What disappoints me the most about the film is that it doesn’t give her the possibility to deliver an ever more sensational ending, as I knew she had it in her to blow us away with those scenes in the house. Had the last 30 minutes of the film focused entirely on her character and her emotions, we would’ve witnessed something of Ingrid Bergman in Autumn Sonata calibre. Even so, she manages to give so much with not enough support and it’s one of the best wins this category’s ever had.

for sure. How difficult it will be for me to pick a winner for 1985, as I rarely get this excited (notice I wrote more that usual, and I had to hold back). Loved it.


Fritz said...

I'm glad you like her so much - she's one of my favorite winners and nominees ever in this category! And you're review pointed out exactly what's so great (even though I disagree about the last 30 minutes - I think she does some incredibly work here, simply walking around her old home, it feels so authentic!).

Alex in Movieland said...

she does, but as soon as the son is back in the picture & starts his pointless speech about not having children blah-blah, something is lost.

Imagine having Geraldine just to ourselves for the last 20 minutes, with her around the property reliving the past... It would've been something, and Geraldine could've definitely carried it.

As it it, we got the whinny son and his most annoying wife.

Fritz said...

Yes, the son at the end is indeed rather...awkward and I, too, could have done without them but somehow it still comes all together beautifully at this moment and when Carrie hugs her daughter-in-law at the end it somehow makes Geraldine's performance complete.

dinasztie said...

A heartbreaking performance. Especially when she gets on the bus. That hopeful face... she kills me.

joe burns said...

She is fantastic! I agree with Fritz on the ending, but to each his own!

I'm glad you gave her a five, you mostly give 4's!

Malcolm said...

I'm actually quite surprised that you gave her a 5.

Not that I've seen this, but because of your disappointment in the film itself. I was actually almost sure that you are going to give her a 4... until I saw the stars.

I myself am not that interested with this movie (and therefore, to some extent, performance) because the subject sounds a bit sappy.

Do you have a link for the movie? I guess you made me want to see this.

Anyway, have you already watched One Day? I'm really interested to hear your take on Hathaway.

Alex in Movieland said...

No, no link, I had a copy.

Didn't see One Day and no intention to :) I'll see 2011 films starting November, all thru awards season. I might give it a chance that, it seems to flop.

Anonymous said...

Amazing performance. If u remember I stated my ranking on Clayburgh's profile and how much I loved it, Im glad you enjoyed it so much too!


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I see the screencaps and I get teary eyes. Geraldine is just so impossibly sweet and sincere. I know actors grow ACT (and age) but watching this I couldn't even imagine her as the fiery Alexandra in Sweet Bird of Youth.

Alex in Movieland said...

I agree. Completely different.