Friday, July 9, 2010

Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly, Last Summer

Legendary Elizabeth Taylor received her third Oscar nomination in a row for playing Catherine, a mentally unstable young woman in the 1959 movie, Suddenly, Last Summer alongside Kate Hepburn and her good friend Montgomery Clift. Liz was favored to win her first Oscar for this performance (with her friend Audrey Hepburn as her biggest rival), however she lost the Oscar in a huge upset. She got her makeup award a year later though (for a movie that was not only hated by the critics but also by Liz herself)

I'm not going to go into the details of the movie again as I've already done that. I just have to tell how dangerous the part of Catharine really is. It's really difficult and one can extremely easily can go very-very over-the-top with it. This danger gets even more terrifying if we consider the fact that Elizabeth Taylor is playing Catharine. Taylor is a brilliant and talented performer which she proved many times (Virginia Woolf naturally) and whom I love immensely and without conditions, but she can/could very easily get hysterical and way too over-the-top (BUtterfield 8) with her roles and then she becomes so annoying that you want to slap her.

Good news to both the fans and the haters: here she's (quite frankly put) both. For the first time around, I was mesmerized by her performance (mainly because of her last scene), but now I looked at her performance very carefully from a safe distance. And I can safely say, that I liked it (in a way) again as she gives a memorable performance, which is not for the ages probably, but not bad either.

In her very first scene, I was so afraid that I was going to see the hysterical, over-the-top Liz, but my fears became less intense towards the end of it (it should not have unfortunately). Yet, as much as I want to, I cannot really say many bad things about her performance. The first thing is that she portrays Catharine as a very seductive woman in some of the scenes, which I did not really get. I think Catharine is scared of everyone and everything, including the doctor who tries to help her and I also felt that it was very illogical that she seduced him (and kissing him). Sometimes Taylor used the wrong emotions and I cannot say another term for her acting, rather than moody and unpredictable.

Being unpredictable is not essentially a problem, but here I felt a bit annoyed by it. The big Oscary scenes, the loud cries and screams of her character turned out to be a bit funny in the end. And it's a huge problem if you want to shock, but end up being a bit ridiculous. Also, the tone of her voice could get really exaggerated sometimes, which again annoyed me. Where she hugs and kisses Montgomery Clift and says that she's very lonely is the most flawed of all. I definitely think that Taylor could have done much-much better for she has the potential of being amazing (again the example is Virginia Woolf), she just missed so many opportunities with this movie. Not to mention that she's overshadowed by Kate Hepburn so much, that it's almost a sin (though everyone pales in comparision with her, so it's a bit unfair from me).

I have to admit though, that her big scene is dead on and is probably the reason that I tend to be forgiving of all her flaws and mistakes. It's so full of emotions and it's probably the only scene where I could really understand the over-the-top nature of the performance. It was essential for that scene, if she had been subtle, she would have sucked and would not have had a huge impact on the audience.

So, to sum up I can say that this performance needed over-the-topness and Elizabeth Taylor, but I felt that it was way to much for me and sometimes she got quite annoying. I said some bad things but still it's not that bad, just a missed opportunity far from being a disaster or a tragedy. Nice work but not enough from Elizabeth Taylor.

So what do you think? Did you like Elizabeth Taylor?

1 comment:

Louis Morgan said...

That was fast. I have not seen the film but she can be very good and she can be pretty bad sometimes too.

My predictions are on track so far.