Monday, June 21, 2010

Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie

British actress Emily Watson received her second Academy Award nomination for playing Jacqueline du Pré, the tortured music legend and woman. Jackie's immense talent is discovered when she's a child and soon becomes a celebrated musician travelling around the world, while her sister Hilary (Rachel Griffith) settles down and raises children. Although they have conflicts, Hilary always tries to provide Jackie with the love and attention she requires, even though as a child Hilary was considered to be more talented and the future musician.

Hilary and Jackie is a solid movie about the complex relationship of these two women through the years. The other members of the family are barely mentioned, the movie focuses on the girls, especially Jackie, who's the true lead of the movie. Rachel Griffith gives a fine, subtle performance in the co-leading role of Hilary, the supportive and loving sister. Contrary to a lot of people, in my opinion it was a wise decision to nominate her supporting (the best of that category, Beverly D'Angelo in American History X was not even nominated). A win would have been to much though.

After her famed first role in Breaking the Waves, Emily Watson got the chance to play another baity role as the mentally unstable Jackie suffering from multiple sclerosis. Emily Watson is a great actress with immense talent (as she proved it in Breaking the Waves), in this movie however is not in her best form. She mostly gives the same performance she did in Breaking the Waves in a more subtle way, and this is quite a big problem as there are not many similarities between the two characters.

In her first scene she's playing the chello, smiling. In the very first scene I found her to be a bit lifeless and boring, I was actually very suprised that I was watching Emily Watson. I desperately wanted her to give some life to this character and finally she was able to (in time). The whole movie focuses on her, even the part which should be about her sister. Despite all these things, I thought that Rachel Griffith gave a superior but not nearly as showy performance as Watson. I felt sympathy for her, however Watson does not let us like this character or feel sorry for her and this is in a way the right thing to do, still somehow the viewer mustn't be neutral towards the lead.

The highlight and probably the best part of her performance is probably when she visits her sister. Watson nails those scene to a degree and she becomes very impressive sometimes. Her naked breakdown scene is great and shows the unstable mind of this character very well, even though it's just like Breaking the Waves, which wasn't much of a problem in those scenes.

However, I must admit that in a strange way, I still liked this performance. I liked that she showed that this woman is a sort of manipulative person with huge breakdowns. Still I could never decide if she was jealous of her sister or not. Because if you wait for a conflict or a catfight like in The Turning Point (oh that's a horrible movie), you will be disappointed. Fortunately, the conflicts in this movie are handled with dignity and subtlety. You can see how desperately this woman loves her sister and deeply in her soul she wants themselves to be five years old, playing. Watson captured Jackie's desires and insecurities quite well.

From a mediocre actress, this would have been a terrific achievement, because of this, my rating won't be very low. However, we must NOT forget that this is Emily Watson, an amazing talent and you can understand why I was so disappointed with this performance. As I am writing this review and think about it, I like it much less than I did when I was watching her. The definition of disappointment for me, I expected so much more.

What do you think?

P.S. I know I'm writing these reviews kinda fast, but I have to finish it until Thursday.

1 comment:

joe burns said...

I think she'll be four or ifth.