Friday, December 9, 2011

Sally Kirkland in Anna

Sally Kirkland received her only Oscar nomination for playing Anna, a forgotten Czechoslovakian actress having great difficulties in New York. Sally must have been really close to winning that Oscar. Before the 1987 Oscar race, she was an actress playing bit parts and being Shelley Winters' Goddaughter. Sally Kirkland started campaigning alone with the help of Winters to get her performance and movie recognised. However, things are not easy when you're practically unknown in a tiny film with no stars and when you're nominated with legendary actresses giving iconic performances. Sally pulled of a win from the Globes   but she didn't manage to get the coveted Academy Award. I guess the Academy was too eager to give the award to Cher plus I think the second was Glenn with Sally being the fourth at best (I just don't see them voting for her, sorry). 

Anna is an awful movie, simple as that. It's incredibly slow, boring, meaningless, unoriginal though it has some great moments. There was nothing in it that really caught my attention (OK, one thing) and the whole thing was just dragging along. Now compare this to the movie of the other nominees and you'll instantly see why Sally lost the Oscar. I mean there's Moonstruck, a wonderful movie full of heart, Fatal Attraction, the huge blockbuster or the wonderfully witty Broadcast News (haven't seen Ironweed yet but I'm sure it's better than Anna). I guess Academy voters were just as bored by it as I was and didn't want to watch it, not even for Sally. Honestly, this movie was one of the worst ones that gave a Best Actress nominee. 

So Sally Kirkland. Honestly, I can't say a word about her. The performances of hers that I've seen from her were very bit parts in The Sting and The Way We Were so I really cannot judge her talent. She's almost completely forgotten by now and we could only see her arriving four hours early to the Oscars. She's become a symbol of agressive self-paid campaiging and is made fun of regularly because of that (at least they talk about her). I wonder why people didn't mention her when talking about Melissa Leo's idiotic self-promotion. The two ladies clearly have a lot of things in common. 

Sally plays Anna, a forgotten, aging Czechoslovakian actress who takes care of a young girl, Krystyna from her country. Anna thinks Krystyna has the potential to become a big star and she indeed succeeds while Anna has to make do with being an understudy. Anna is typically a character that you feel really sorry for. She's really down on her luck, worn out and tired. In a way, she's like Margo Channing, with the exception that Margo was an acclaimed, celebrated actress and Anna has difficulties making it in America. She was a huge star in her home and it's actually quite painful to see her reminiscing about her days of glory. Sally is great at making the viewer sympathize with Anna. However, we also see that she leads a very miserable life and she's a rather pathetic person. Personally, I just wanted to go to her and do something about her career and shout at people: don't you see how much talent she has? Her audition scene is really heartbreaking. We can see that she's way above the things that she has to do.

Anna is typically a character who has a very tragic background story with the revolution, the dead baby and the alienated husband. Kirkland got very juicy monologues from Agnieszka Holland, the wonderful director who penned Anna's screenplay (surprising) and Sally used every opportunity to shine in this part. She puts an incredible amount of emotion into them and it's impossible not to be impressed by her determination to get her part right. It could come off as pushing for attention and in a way it's right but we must not forget how wonderful she is as Anna.

She works quite well with her co-stars and her scenes with Paulina Porizkova are just great. They are like a mother and a daughter, an older actress and a younger actress. In a way they are like Margo and Eve but there's a big difference. Anna and Krystyna are never bitchy with each other and they are much more genuine and supportive. That aspect of the movie is very poorly worked out unfortunately but the actresses were able to save it from being totally weak and forced.

My favorite part of the whole film is Anna's breakdown on the stage. It's a very loud, over-the-top moment that's solved by Sally wonderfully. She never completely overdoes it, only as much as the character required.  All in all, I felt that Sally wonderfully identified with Anna's pain and sorrow.

I probably would have been much more amazed by Sally if she had been in a better movie. Unfortunately, Anna is such a bad movie that it's constantly trying to drag down Sally. In a great movie, she would have been brilliant, this way she's just really great, which is kind of annoying, considering how much more Sally could have given us.

But all in all, I was completely impressed by Sally Kirkland's performance as Anna. She communicated Anna's despair brilliantly and she has an extremely powerful presence on the screen. Although her movie drags her down, she's still really great as the aging actress. Still, there's something in me that's preventing me from being completely taken by her. However, it was a personal triumph for me to get the very hard-to-find movie that I had been looking for over two years. So I'm really content. :)
What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, not a big fan of this performance. Really hope you fall in love with Hunter.

dinasztie said...

Well, Hunter is the next one so you only have to wait about 8-10 hours from the time I write this comment. :)

mrripley said...

Never liked her and the movie you are right is bad bad bad!!!


dinasztie said...

Oh, Maggie was so brilliant in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hyrne.