Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Susan Sarandon in Lorenzo's Oil

Susan Sarandon received her third Oscar nomination for playing Michaela Odone, a woman who's desperately fighting for the life of her son in the movie Lorenzo's Oil. If I really think about it, Susan Sarandon might have even been second to Emma Thompson in the voting. First of all, she was a previous nominee and many think she should have won the previous year for Thelma and Louise. Moreover, her role in Lorenzo's Oil is very sympathetic and I feel that the Academy must have been moved by this very simple story.

Lorenzo's Oil is a really good movie, in my opinion. It's way better than some say and I never felt it too long or boring. It's very well directed and written (though some say the opposite). Lorenzo's Oil really has a purpuse and I loved that it didn't just work for the tears. In fact, I felt it was really interesting from a point of view. Nick Nolte's performance is constantly bashed but I don't think that he was that terrible. Sure, the accent was overdone but apart from that, he wasn't that bad. I must underline Margo Martindale's performance which, in my opinion, should have been recognised some way. It's great that the world is realising how great she is.

Susan Sarandon is a very intelligent, interesting actress who was probably the greatest diva of the ninties. Sure, some might argue with that but I think that she's more than special. That being said, I had somewhat high expectations from this performance of hers in Lorenzo's Oil and she actually lived up to them much more than I would've thought. It's no wonder that she was asked to play Michaela after Michelle Pfeiffer dropped out (wonder if she had won the Oscar with this part). Sarandon has all the necessary qualities to play Michaela. Intelligence, subtlty and a very expressive face.

Michaela seems to be a cliché role and yet in Susan's interpretation she doesn't seem to be one. In fact, Susan added so many layers to her and totally inhabited her. The best thing about this work was that (just like the movie) Susan didn't do this for the tears. You can feel the commitment in her to play such a part. I felt that not only did she understand all the problems of this character but she also added a deeper meaning to her feelings. There's some kind of a universal nature in this part. Susan doesn't play only Michaela, she plays all the mothers in the world, shows their reactions and we also get to see her struggle.

Another thing that I love about her is that she never falls into the traps of such a role. She never becomes the mother in the corner whose teary eyes are visible and says uplifting monologues about her child. In fact, Susan makes her really hard to like. She shows all the meltdowns and dark moments of this woman who's haunted by her own demons. She becomes hysterical with the nurses and doctors and yet there's an incredible amount of love and tenderness in her when we see her talking to her child. This really sounds like a cliché but it isn't really. As I said, Susan always gives believable reactions.

I think she also works well with Nick Nolte. Although I don't think that Nolte is that terrible, he's still much weaker than Sarandon. However, Susan was able to find a perfect balance and that way it all worked. They (or at least Susan) really seemed to be very supportive of each other, never trying to outplay the other. I never noticed any selfishness in Sarandon's work.

There are some really emotional moments and Sarandon nailed them all. Her famous "Fly to Baby Jesus" moment is a really hearbreaking scene (despite its surprising shortness). However, I liked the ending more when she realises that there's still some hope for her son. She never becomes soappy at all, which is a pretty great achievement.

Just like her whole performance, as Susan Sarandon is really memorable and moving as Michaela Odone, a woman who refuses to give up on her son's life. Although she's nothing truly mindblowing, she works extremely well with the characters and shows her emotions exceptionally. Really great work.

What do you think?


mrripley said...

Michelle would've been wrong for the role,she was not a mother like Susan plus she would have been about 34 to Susan's 45,she would not have been believable next to nolte.

Not to say she wouldn't have been good but the couple's believability would have been in question.

Susan is my 2nd choice in '92 nearly my winner but i have her winning in '91 so that is that.

It's a bit like Glenn in 87,i have to have Glenn number 1 in 88 so Cher wins in 87 though i really prefer Glenn,back to back wins are not my thing i like to spread the wealth.

ThiagoTos said...

"she plays all the mothers in the world"

I thought the same thing when I watched this film. Good work.

dinasztie said...

ThiagoTos: Thank you. :)

Mrripley: For me, it's all about the performances. I don't care if I give out three counsecutive wins (though that's impossible). But I see your point. I also like to reward as many actresses as possible and spreading the wealth is always great.

Anonymous said...

Sarandon can do no wrong.

dinasztie said...

Sage: Well, maybe. :) From what I saw, I agree.

Malcolm said...

My memory of Lorenzo's Oil is completely gone, but I can recall that I actually thought Sarandon was very good. Maybe I need to see it again.

Anyway, I still think Emma would win. :)