Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Joanne Woodward in Mr & Mrs Bridge

Joanne Woodward received her fourth Best Actress nomination for playing India Bridge, a devouted, but unhappy housewife in the Ivory-Merchant movie, Mr & Mrs Bridge. Along with Anjelica Huston, Woodward was the early front-runner for the award as I read somewhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if she turned out to be last in the voting. She was a previous Oscar winner, did not have a very baity role and the movie was not a huge success either. She had to make do with the nomination.

The movie seems to be very hated, therefore I was certainly scared to watch it. People said it's very boring and it is to a degree, but let me assure you that I have seen many movies much more boring than this. The Ivory-Merchant duo is not my favorite combination: they are the representatives of the slow, but quality dramas, meaning movies boring as hell. That's it. They got great actors for the parts: Paul Newman was (is) one of the greatest actors, and he's very good here, though don't expect this to be the role of his lifetime. However, I was certainly surprised by Blythe Danner, who gave an excellent supporting performance, which I loved from the beginning to the sad end. She was so great, that I would even give her a nomination.

Joanne Woodward is good. Hmm, I haven't been able to fully embrace the movies of Mrs. Newman, simply because I haven't seen enough of them. But from what I've seen of her, I can say that she is talented, but her style is just not my thing. It's so quietly depressing and a bit annoying as I think she did not find the balance between the neurotic nature and the silence of her characters.

The worst thing I can feel towards a performance is indifference. It's not bad, but not great either, and this really kills me. I love to feel strong emotions about everything: for me it's basically love or hate. You can see it in my grades: it's mostly either a 5 or a 3. That's it. But now I don't know what to say. First of all, the character of Mrs. Bridge is so boring and uninteresting. The writer so desperately wanted to give a dark side to it, but she always came across as sweet and caring. Yes, she certainly is sweet and caring, but this nature makes a character quite one-dimensional. She has this outbursts, but they just do not fit the situations. At the beginning of the movie, she says that she wants a divorce. Why? I mean, she seemed to be happy and then it changes just because of a novel. It's realistic, but not with Mrs. Bridge. It's not her, or at least not what the movie and Joanne show of her.

There are some stronged moments during the holiday scenes with her husband, for instance when she becomes teary after receiving a very expensive present. She's very sweet there and quite likeable, but soon after that she loses her strength. And I won't even say that there was more potential in the character, because there wasn't unfortunately. Joanne did everything possible, but that just wasn't satisfying.

There come scenes of slowness and boredom in which Joanne does not have much to do, except for being sweet and caring again. There's a scene where she asks her husband if he loves her, but that wasn't effective enough. I just did not felt the emotional strength in it.

However, her performance gains some of that strength after her daughter returns home at one night. That silence was quite impressive and I finally had some emotional connection to her. That's when her ultra subtlety worked and had some power. After a while, I started to enjoy her acting. But it's just too late in the movie.

Her grief scenes are however truly outstanding. She really made me a bit sad for her and the way she says "she was my best friend" is hearwrenching. It's not a moment of catharsis, but it's excellently handled by Woodward. But after that her performance paled again, even though I rooted for Joanne so much.

So, to sum up, this performance of Woodward is not an amazing achievement as it really did not touch me despite some strong and excellently solved scenes. Mostly, it's very slow and uninteresting, but she couldn't catch my attention even after the good moments. It's proper work, but far from fantastic.

So what do you think? The Final Conclusion comes very soon. Now you can't give official predictions, but I'm curious to read your thoughts (if you have some about Woodward, which I doubt as this is a very unintersting performance).

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