Monday, January 3, 2011

Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection

Ellen Burstyn received her fifth Oscar nomination for playing Edna, a woman who has a healing power after experienceing afterlife for a brief time in the movie Resurrection. It's really entertaining to speculate about someone's Oscar chances. I wouldn't say that Ellen had much chance of winning that award. I'm pretty sure that she was the fifth in the voting: she was a previous Oscar winner, her movie wasn't much of a blockbuster and this is really not the type of movie that usually wins the Oscar.

This movie is so haunting. This movie (and I say Ellen's performance too) is so not for everyone. It really requires a certain way of thinking that's not very common. I say that if you love it, you really love it and if you dislike it, you will really dislike it. It was supposed to be a horror like The Exorcist was, but Ellen Burstyn was really against it and I'm so happy that this movie became what it is: a very unusually effective and extremely thought-provoking piece that you. Eva La Gallienne's nomination is a bit of silly as she doesn't do much in this movie, but I guess it was an honorary recognition.

OK, I'll admit again, but I guess you all know it well enough: Ellen Burstyn is really one of my favorite actresses: she just can't be bad (though I dislike Same Time, Next Year) and any movie in which she stars becomes better even by her presence. I was quite worried, though since many say that this is one of her weakest works and that her last scene ruins her whole performance (more on that later, I promise). However, I always trust Ellen and I was so right.

In the beginning, Edna seems to be a very ordinary woman, who has a simple, but normal life with her husband. Here, Ellen plays her with such ease and so effortlessly. Edna is a good wife, who saves money for a new car, which causes the death of her husband and herself. It's even stranger than you would think, but the scenes of afterlife are so incredibly thrilling. There's so much peace coming from there and everything is so relieving. However, when she wakes up, Ellen shows Edna's fear and desperation so hearwrenchingly. She's lying on the bed, crying in the sadness of her state.

These scenes of suffering and her extremely slow recovery are just breathtaking. The one where she's trying to walk but always falls on the ground made me speechless. I could feel the pain of this character so obivous and I felt everything along with her and it almost made me paralyzed, too. Ellen really hit me in my guts and even when I'm talking about her, I'm becoming so emotionally confused and puzzled. Ellen was able to move me to such a degree, that I almost hate this performance. I think that's why some people dislike her: she mixes the emotions and it can become really puzzling for some.

The real thrill in this performance is Edna's discovery of her supernatural powers. First, she doesn't completely understand everything, but she knows that she has a mission of healing as many people as possible. She's a real miracle worker and she always acts in the name of love and she wants nothing, but help. She delivers speeches to people and she acts so much like Jesus. Although she always denies that, she acts that way and I always had a feeling that Edna actually enjoyed the comparisions to Jesus. And Ellen's transformation in this movie is just superb and we can see how much she worked with the development of Edna. From a very ordinary woman, she became something that brings health and happiness to a small community. Nobody remains the same after meeting Edna.

There's a very long and extremely harrowing scene, which is quite probably one of the best ones I've ever seen from Ellen Burstyn: after an extremely scary examination (oh she's so incredible in that scene), she has to heal a permanently ill woman. Ellen put so much emotion into this single scene: her interactions with this woman are truly amazing. The expressions on Ellen's face show that Ellen totally inhabited this character. It was such an ecstatic moment.

The scenes with her family are also amazing: the tears in Ellen's eyes when she has to say goodbye to her grandmother are so effective. It was a really intense moment and it left a huge impact on me. However, after this, there's the much hated scene, when Edna is old. Hmm. I think it's a great scene which was excellently handled by Ellen and I think although her make-up was not perfect I felt the years one her face.

So to sum up, this performance was so healing for me. I loved every moment of it, though I doubt that love is the right word for it. It really made me re-think if The Exorcist is my favorite performance of Ellen. Ellen in Ressurection is thought-provoking, harrowing and unforgettable. She made me almost speechless.
I wonder how she will do in the ranking. I still have to think a lot about her. I don't know when I am able to finish this year. It might even be on 22nd January, so be patient and I'll do my best.

What do you think?


Louis Morgan said...

I have not seen her here, but she could actually win.

Anonymous said...

I thought about going for a 5 too, it's truly a surprising performance.

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Fritz said...

Haven't seen her yet but I am not her biggest fan...

dinasztie said...

Fritz: She's great in this one. Although I am not even sure about the rating, she's just great.