Saturday, December 10, 2011

Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction

Great Glenn Close received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Alex Forrest, a lonely, psychotic woman who's after a man with whom she had a brief affair in the movie Fatal Attraction. Considering the hit status of Fatal Attraction and the fact that Great Glenn had already received three Oscar nominations must have made her a serious contender for the Academy Award. However, unlike Cher she wasn't the sentimental favorite and unlike Sally Kirkland she didn't campaign as hell to win the award so she once again lost (and she's still Oscarless, what a shame on the Academy, it's disgusting). It's ironic that out of the five performances nominated it's only hers that became truly iconic and most frequently talked about. You know, time always tells which performances are really good.

Fatal Attraction is an excellent movie. It's not an art flick, it very much knows what the audience wants and serves it, but it's still just chilling and fantastic. Adrian Lyne is very talented at creating tension (in every way) and he's just great here. I think all the Oscar nominations were richly deserved for this movie and I guess Michael Douglas would have been deservedly nominated, too had it not been for his Oscar winning turn in Wall Street. Anne Archer, however, absolutely deserved to win the Academy Award for her excellent work as Dan's wife. In my opinion, Ellen Hamilton Latzen was also worthy of the nomination (I know, I know...)

But oh boy, this movie is about Great Glenn. And I love this woman, I truly do. I literally watch everything she's in (movie, television show and if I can see bits and pieces of her work theatre). She has an acting style unlike anyone that I know. There's something about her that draws me constantly, a kind of a special aura or radiation that keeps telling me all the time: "She's great. She's great. She's great. She's great. She's great.". And yes, she's Great Glenn and no I can't call her anything else. I might even say she's my favorite actress besides Jane Fonda. And according to most people, her finest hour was her work as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction.

Fatal Attraction basically created a whole new genre with the crazy ex-girlfriend who's ruining happy families. And most of that is due to the marvelous and devastating performance of Great Glenn who's simply marvelous at communicating Alex's feelings and demons. The movie and the screenplay are quite standard and not very original (to say the least) and it was up to the actors (and especially Great Glenn) to elevate it to something really special. They all succeeded, especially Great Glenn who created one of the most iconic characters of all time.

If you have noticed, I just keep saying that Glenn is great and iconic but I don't give reasons why. The explanation is quite simple: no words can perfectly describe Great Glenn's gigantic power and force as Alex. From the first moment, her performance is just perfect. We get to see her for the first time at a party, being an ordinary 80s sexy woman. She presents Alex as a confident, smart and sexy woman with a sense of humor but also as someone who's very realistic about life. She's an incredibly seductive presence (I can only compare her to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct) and you can easily see why Michael Douglas' character falls head over heels for her.

For me, the most wonderful aspect of this performance is the way Great Glenn develops Alex: she goes step by step, very carefully without being too obvious or forced in her acting. You can notice some small hints here and there so that you can say in the end "of course, that was the obvious thing for her to do." At first, she seems to be more and more proud, but she turns out to be a devastated, depressed person. SPOILER The scene where we see her attempting suicide is just perfectly played by Great Glenn. The amount of sadness and devastation that she displays in that scene alone is worthy of an Oscar, in my opinion. Thanks to her timing, it becomes just as shocking as it's dramatic. SPOILER OFF!

It's well-known how much Great Glenn prepared for this role and that she actually consulted with two psychiatrists about the part and played her according to the diagnosis. And she just chillingly shows the symptoms, actually, she does much better than the movie would have asked for. However, it's Great Glenn's careful approach to this woman that really paid off. Great Glenn realized that Alex is not just a woman who wants to take revenge on her lover, but a mentally ill person who's just desperate to have somebody in her life.

The movie, however, is constantly trying to drag Great Glenn down. With the famous rabbit and roller-coaster scenes, it's just trying to say that Alex is just a crazy witch but miraculously Glenn was able to play the character the way she deserved to be played. Alex seems like Ophelia who sinks deeper and deeper into mental illness. Her face is just devastating where Alex is turning the lamp on and off. I couldn't help feeling sorry for that woman and hate Dan for what she did to her. In a way, Alex's behavior is justified and Great Glenn emphasises that every story has two sides and unlike what we should believe, Alex is not a just a crazy bitch. She turned her very sexist movie into a really complex and fascinatig character study that doesn't cease to amaze the viewer. I guess that was the main ambition of Great Glenn and she more than succeeded. She makes the viewer compassionate about Alex's fate.

Alex's feeling are best shown by Great Glenn in the scene where we can hear her narration and watch her teary face in the car. Glenn (I always want to type Alex, that must mean something) is just chillingly brilliant there. I was naturally frightened by her but the whole thing was also deeply heartbreaking. She makes Alex so terribly human despite constant effort of the movie to make her the devil itself.

I guess that's why Glenn was disappointed that the original ending (where Alex commited suicide) was replaced by a showier, scarier ending, which would say that the movie won and Alex is a monster. However, Glenn was able to benefit even from this. She just kept up doing what she originally did and that's it. She did it as if it was what Alex would have done. She didn't overdo the craziness of Alex. and was a really haunting presence. However, I don't see the comparisions with Madame Butterfly this way which would have been so beautiful with the original ending.

In the end, I can say that Great Glenn is just astonising in her iconic performance as Alex Forrest. She makes Alex a terribly human character whose actions seem to come from her desperation and not her evil nature. She brilliantly develops her character from a sexy, confident woman to a devastated wreck. She's chilling, heartbreaking and just unforgettable. A truly incredible performance by an amazingly gifted and dedicated actress.

Don't tell me you were suprised! :) 


Derek Bowman said...

I love that you use "Great Glenn" like fifty times in this review. Do you think she's great? XD

Sage Slowdive said...

FAVORITE SCENE! "Look what you've reduced me too..."

dinasztie said...

That's her name, I always call her that. It would be weird any other way. For me, it's all natural to always call her that.

You could use that with Siggy, too like, say, Superb Sigourney or something. :D

I have these nicknames for my favortie actresses. OK, so I'll write down the Dinasztie Dictonary of Jingling Names:

- Jane for Jane Fonda because... you know, she's a goddess. But her whole name is Jane Fonda, the fantastic.

- Brilliant Barbara Stanwyck

- Wonder Woman Winslet for Kate Winslet

- Magnificent Maggie Smith and I have temporary, acute illness called Maggie Mania

- Amazing Angela for Angela Lansbury and Incredible Ingrid for Ingrid Bergman but I rarely use these two. :)

But Great Glenn is my favorite nickname, hands down. :)

Anonymous said...

I honestly think this is only Oscar worthy performance Glenn Close has ever given.(I saw Albert Nobbs too)I think she is theater actress and she belongs to theater,but here,she deserved Oscar.

dinasztie said...

I'd say she's given 5 Oscar-worthy performances. Albert Nobbs is among them. I think she's just spectacular there. But she may not even be nominated, which is sad. I sincerely wish her the Oscar.

But her best performance is Sunny Von Bülov in Reversal of Fortune. Perfection.

Derek Bowman said...

That comment might be my favorite of all time, lol!

I go back and forth between Siggy, SigSig, and SigWeavie. ;)

Louis Morgan said...

She's great in this and She would most certainly be my choice, and I doubt she will not be yours.

Anonymous said...

Perfect performance! Cher completely stole the Oscar from her, I still don't understand how Glenn lost that year!!!!

Dazzling Aura said...

brilliant review. FA is one of my favorite because of its realistic story, even now there still Alex Forrest everywhere, i think. LOL!

my fav scene from the film are:

the cafe scene
her vomit scene after watching Dan happy with his family
her crazy stalking
the strangle scene
the ending scene- the most thrilling part.

over all FA is a gem in the name of film making.

mrripley said...

I rewatched it recently and she is terrifyingly unpredictable,she looks so sexy when we first see her,gc sexy!!!!

the lamp scene breaks me up everytime,we should hate her yet we are sympathising with her,we all know what it feels like and she gets that over powerfully,i love the scene where she is looking at the apartment too,anne is obliviously wonderful but she shows an inkling of something.

the confrontation scene works due to glenn.

i would still've given the oscar to Cher or lilian gish though.

dinasztie said...

mrripley: I wouldn't vote for Cher over Great Glenn but whatever. :)

Dazzling Aura: My favorite is the one where she cuts her wrists and starts kissing Dan. And you just see the blood. Oh my, her face there... But the car scene is very-very close. That vomiting is brilliant as well.

OK, conclusion: My favorite scene is her whole performance. :D

Anonymous said...

The confusing thing is that Close in 1987 never was favorite.She has zero critic awards,she didn't even won golden globe.It was all between Hunter and Cher with Kirkland as a posible upset.In 1988 she was considered as a filler.Race was between Foster and Griffith with Weaver as a possible upset.

dinasztie said...

And nowadays her performances are the ones that are considered iconic. I heard that Great Glenn was considered a potenital winner in 1988 because of her losses. :D

dinasztie said...

Derek: Oh, thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Exactly.Well,maybe you're right,1988 was all over the place,but i get sense she was filler.And this reminds me how Anthony Perkins didn't even nominated for Psycho(truly shameful).Btw,ther's a great article on thefilmexperience blog on how overdue factor is overrated...

dinasztie said...

I've read that. I don't agree with it completely, I have my reservations. I still strongly believe that Great Glenn has a chance of winning, á lá Jeff Bridges -> not getting much love from critics but wins BFCA, Globe and SAG + overdue factor + gender-bending role (they love it) + passion project + they are not jerk offs enough not to vote for her after 5 losses (they used to do it, but nowadays people say what they did not use to say) = Oscar.

That overdue factor is so often used with people who are not even worthy of that. I mean, someone called Melissa Leo overdue. Plus Kate Winslet won only based on being overdue.

Anonymous said...

I think overdue factor definitely exists,but whats more important is how much your film is liked.The reader and the fighter were clearly liked by the academy,and that with possible overdue factor is enough for the win.I don't think Donna Reed or Grace Kelly were huge surprises either.From here to eternity was academy's darling and overdue factor still didn't help Ritter.Again,if H.Fonda won based on overdue factor solely,why Hepburn won 4th Oscar for on golden pond?Its very important that your film is very liked.

dinasztie said...

I agree with that but I can only say Crazy Heart again. :) It didn't even make the top 10 list.

Anonymous said...

Yeah,Bridges was lucky that Clooney was already oscar winner.Otherwise race could've turn differently.If race turn out to be Close vs Streep i can see Close winning.Until SAG nominations best actress race seems to be Streep vs Williams vs Davis,although Davis,unlike Spencer imo didn't gave Oscar worthy performance,but Help will be liked by the Academy.

dinasztie said...

Wow, I thought Viola Davis was unbelievable in The Help and she gave the best performance. If Great Glenn is not nominated, I'm going to root for Viola (her performance as Aibileen is my favorite of the year so far). :) But Octavia is also fantastic. It would be nice to see both of them winning. :D

mrripley said...

Anonymous the 88 race was not between Griffith and Foster it was between Close 5 TIME NOMINEE IN A BEST PIC and Weaver X 3 NOMINEE AND A DOUBLE NOMINEE with Foster the outside with a big chance.

dinasztie said...

Yeah mrripley, that's what I heard, too. :) Had I lived back then and watched, I would have cried at Great Glenn's loss. But more on that year in January. ;)

Anonymous said...

Mmh,i guess we will never know.What i recall is that Weaver was considered a lock for supporting category and Davis was HUGE surprise.But again,The Accidental tourist clearly has supporters within academy.Griffith is considered favorite and "it girl" and Working girl not only was best pic contender,but also big hit with prestigious director.Close was in best picture contender,but (just like Weaver's in W.Girl)the role lacks screen time.Foster is almost in every scene,role was showy and her comeback.We can agree that race was very close and that Foster won by a thin margin.

JC said...

to anon:

I think Foster won because of the showiness of her film. She also has less screentime, but it was showy, like you said.

Close, on the other hand, with already the less screentime, also has a very restrained role.

Griffith, I guess, was third, because of the love for her film. But I guess having it compete with much heavyweight roles, she could not have won.

dinasztie said...

I guess we have to get back to this topic when I do 1988, which won't be in a long time. :)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

What I appreciate most about Glenn's performance is her ferocious attempts to eschew the film's occasional interest in turning Alex into too pulpy a villain, and in an interview recently I remembered her saying that, for her, Alex wasn't just a jealous harpy but a woman with an actual mental illness.

dinasztie said...

Exactly Andrew. :) I took it as a big fight between Great Glenn and Fatal Attraction. :) Great Glenn won... :D

PVnNO said...

Absolutely agree that Close gave an outstanding performance. Hers was not only the best by an actress of 1987 but of the entire decade. I think it's one of the 5 most brilliant female performances of all-time. Shame, then, that she played her role so amazingly well that she scared the living hell out of the largely male Academy, who opted for Cher's lighter--and inferior--performance.