Saturday, September 3, 2011

Glenda Jackson in Sunday Bloody Sunday

Glenda Jackson received her second Oscar nomination for playing Alex Greville, a divorced working woman sharing the answering service and her lover with a gay Jewish doctor in John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday. Honestly, that 1971 line-up was so unusual. Jane Fonda's win was quite predictable but the other nominees were all quite surprising. Only Vanessa Redgrave received a Globe nod for her Mary Stuart but Glenda was the more praised one for her now iconic turn as Queen Elizabeth I (a role she reprised from the famous miniseries). I guess combined with that work, Glenda must have been the strongest contender after Jane Fonda and was probably second (her win a year before might have helped her, too).

Sunday Bloody Sunday is a great film but I wasn't as blown away by it as I was the last time. I still find it an excellent piece of work, I just don't think that it's really amazing. The screenplay, however, deserved to win the Oscar, hands down. It's a really orginial and very interesting story, full of tension. The directing nod was also very worthy but I'm not sure if a win would have been justified. Nevertheless, Peter Finch was just as great as I remembered and he definitely should have won the Oscar for this performance (he was way in this one than Network, probably).

My enthusiasm towards the film has dropped a bit and unfortunately that applies to Glenda Jackson, too. She's an actress I really like and admire but I never really loved her. I mean I loved her in her Oscar winning performances (she's one of the few who won for the right roles). She's great all around and very cool to like but she's not among my favorite actresses. However, nothing really influences me when I watch a certain performance and Glenda is so talented that she's always a real treat on screen.

Glenda plays Alex, a woman who's quite desperate to keep her lover. In many ways, she's like Vicki Alessio from A Touch of Class: she's a divorced working woman with problems in her love life. She's someone who gives herself too much to a man and therefore she becomes a bit addicted to someone who may not be that worthy of her. She's not the manipulative Gundrun from Women in Love or Hedda Gabler from Hedda. She doesn't control people. She's one of the rare characters of Glenda Jackson who's being really manipulated. Glenda wonderfully shows each and every aspect of this character and covers a really wide range of emotions. Everything is there: sadness, bitterness, hope, desperation and there's the usual Glenda Jackson irony in the part. Great actresses always give a touch of their own personality into their roles. Glenda is just like that. There's always a bit of Glenda in every role (but in the best way possible). This is what makes a performance truly outstanding and this gives it such a unique quality.

Glenda is excellent at showing Alex's demons and fears. Who can forget the scene where she's looking at the little girl she looks after and we see her imagining the girl lying dead. Glenda is so good at showing these emotions and as a result, this performance becomes kind of disturbing and hard to watch sometimes.

I was also impressed by how Glenda showed the changes in Alex, especially the scene where she sleeps with an older man from work. In their scene, the atmosphere is so full of sexual tension and if I had to pick a favorite scene from this movie, this one would be it. There was something so incredibly seductive about Glenda there. I was totally taken away by her bit nervous behaviour.

The scenes with Peggy Aschcroft are also wonderful. Their dialogue about marriage and affairs is so excellently played by both actresses. We can see two worlds battling with each other. However, we can feel that Alex (deep inside) wants to be a settled married woman.

My only problem with this performance is that while Glenda's excellent in many ways, I never felt that she was totally standing out in this movie. She's fantastic and memorable for sure but I was never as blown as I expected.

Still, Glenda Jackson is just excellent as Alex Greville in Sunday Bloody Sunday. She shows lots of aspects of this character and she nails all the emotions of this character. Although I was never totally amazed by her, I was impressed by her work, especially in the scenes where she showed the demons of Alex.
What do you think?


Louis Morgan said...

For me she was amazing, and I found that she was even better than Peter Finch.

dinasztie said...

Well, I never thought she was amazing but she was fantastic in many scenes. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything, especially your opinion of her as a performer – she is an amazing actress but not one who gets me terribly excited.

Groggy Dundee said...

Nice article. I saw this movie about a week ago and enjoyed it a lot. I liked Jackson's performance but Peter Finch stole the show for me.