Monday, June 21, 2010

Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love

Gwyneth Paltrow received her only nomination and won the Oscar, for playing Viola de Lesseps, a young girl, who's dreaming about becoming an actor and soon gets the part of Romeo in William Shakespeare's (Joseph Fieness) brand new play, Romeo and Juliet and she also becomes romantically involved with the famed author and player, however she's forced to marry the humorless Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) as she has to obey her parents and the Queen (Judi Dench).

Shakespeare in Love is a witty and and entertaining romantic comedy, which is widely hated because it won the Oscar over Saving Private Ryan, still I loved it because of some memories and also because I find it a very good and enjoyable movie, which wasn't necessarily deserving of the Best Picture Oscar. I admit though that it requires a special mood and you cannot always enjoy it (when I rewatched it yesterday I wasn't that impressed either). The music is probably the best thing about it, the screenplay is colorful, witty and smart and the comedy part is OK. Just like the actors, who give solid performances and only the always brilliant Judi Dench stands out, but when doesn't she?

Last time you read anything I wrote (a line) about Gwyneth Paltrow on this blog, it wasn't much of a praise and I kind of regret it, because it just wasn't that fair to say. Gwyneth Platrow is actually a talented and charming performer, who can give very good performances and who's also a very good comedienne (see Iron Man for proof). Just like in the case of Carey Mulligan, she was often compared to Audrey Hepburn at the time (well mainly by the campaign of Harvey Weinstein), which I really don't understand. Paltrow has a totally different personality from Hepburn, she acts in a very different way and they don't even look like each other. This role might be a little like Princess Ann in Roman Holiday. A rich girl who does not enjoy and would rather be with normal people. Roughly, this is the only comparision.

The first time we see Paltrow on scene, she's just laughing charmingly and then whispering the lines of Shakespeare rather awkwardly. We see that she's a girl who's a true dreamer and this is probably too exaggerated in the screenplay and Paltrow could not really handle this. She could either take the role a 100% seriously or emphasise the humor and be a bit ironic, a charicature of Juliet from the play. She wants them both and the two things mix weirdly and the result is being plain and a bit boring.

As this performance is by no means bad, it's only a bit watered and uninteresting. But it's not only the fault of Paltrow, as she's not provided with a very complicated and interesting role and she does not have the opportunity to truly shine. Or there was actually an opportunity but she could not use it. I cannot decide it though.

She also gets the classic comic role of a crossdresser, because in order to become a player Viola has to pretend that she's a man. In the role of Thomas Kent, she's quite good and funny, she brilliantly caught the clumsiness of this young girl who has to act like a man. The way she speaks or walk are both (limitedly) funny, meaning that you are amused by it at first, but then you get nothing special out of it.

However, I have to admit that in the very last scenes she reaches greatness and she even moved me. She perfectly solved her last scene with Shakespeare, which had many traps but she managed to avoid all of them. In the last 20 minutes she was utterly charming and lovable, probably what she should have been during the whole movie and is probably the reason why I give her this rating.

So to sum up, this is a performance of which I did not have a very high opinion and I still don't, but I managed to find like or appreciate. I'm not saying this is Oscar material but not bad anyway. So see my brand new rating system:

Definitely stronger 3 than Sandra Bullock's.

So what do you think? Do you agree?


Fritz said...

I'm glad you liked her more now. I think her performances ages pretty well.

dinasztie said...

That's probably true.

joe burns said...

I need to see it again-I liked her the first couple times I saw it, but having seen clips of her around Youtube , she's very bad in them.

Zephyr said...

I'm not a big fan of modern comedy, and whereas I think 'Shakespeare in Love' is a very charming film, I much prefered Joseph Fiennes in this film than hers.