Thursday, July 5, 2012

Melanie Griffith in Working Girl

Melanie Griffith got her only Oscar nomination to date for playing Tess McGill, a secretary who's determined to make it in the business world in a very unorthodox way in Mike Nichols' Best Picture nominated movie, Working Girl. Griffith was considered a front-runner for the prize, though I don't believe that she ever was a serious threat for the win, especially considering her lightweight role and movie. I guess Sigourney might have gotten ahead of her (along with Jodie and Great Glenn), but I really don't know. Her family's Hollywood connections might have helped a bit.

I'm astonished to say this, but I actually loved Working Girl for the second time. I was especially stunned, considering the fact that I didn't use to be a big fan of it. However, now I see what it is: a lovely, extremely entertaining product of pop culture. I'm not sure if it really deserved Best Picture and Director, but I'm just glad it received those nods. Also, I'm extremely disappointed that Siggy lost the Oscar: it was such a great opportunity to reward her. And I'm saying this despite one fact: that my actual vote in Supporting Actress would go to Working Girl, but to a different actress (though I go back and forth between her and Siggy and I love Michelle as well). Yep, I'm on the really uncrowded and unpopular Joan Cusack bandwagon right now: my goodness, that woman just rocks in her tiny part and overshadows the rest of her cast in a blink. I'd love to go on and on how much I loved her but I constantly remind myself that this review should be about Melanie, not Joan. :-) If you're interested, I'll tell you why as soon as I get back. 

Whatever happened to Melanie Griffith? I was just going to say it's time to go to television, Melanie, I can see that she already has a pilot coming up. Let's just hope that it brings her back to conversation since I'm really interested how she's working as a middle-aged actress. I guess an Emmy and another Golden Globe could give some boost to her career. Although I cannot say many other movies of hers beside Working Girl, I'm really rooting for her career. 

Melanie's nomination for Working Girl is one of the most unpopular and hated nominations ever given out. Many fail to see how she was nominated over the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Susan Sarandon or Michelle Pfeiffer (for Married to the Mob). True, but is this the reason why people dislike her so actively here? Partly, in my opinion. Personally, I can clearly see why I used to hate her here: when I watched her movie on tv years and years ago, I got used to her dubbed voice, where the actress sounded like a purr of a cat. And I loved that voice, of course. Compared to that, Melanie sounded like a tortured, not a pampered cat. However, this time I knew what to expect and I wasn't annoyed by her at all. In fact, nowadays I prefer this voice to this character, it just fits her more. Tess should be clumsy and unlucky, why should she have an awesome voice?

That being said, I don't think the Hungarian dubbing came to picture to many others who hate Melanie here. I suppose this is a mystery I'm never going to solve. Let me just say: I absolutely love Melanie's Tess McGill. From the first moment to the last, I liked this woman, cared about her, rooted for her. You know, I just wanted what Tess wanted: I wanted her to be succesful. And I refuse to feel guilt about this opinion of mine. In fact, I kind of feel like I'm a member of a very cool and elite club who really get this performance.

I suppose my whole attitude towards Melanie is identical with my feelings for her movie. I don't think it's a masterpiece of any kind, it just relaxes me and makes me feel good, even for that short period of time I'm watching her. I think you just have to know exactly what to expect from her and you can't be disappointed. Don't expect a very emotional, layered portrayal of a woman who's struggling in the business world. There's no real suffering going on there and Melanie doesn't try to dig really deep into her character. While there are some similarities between the two ladies, her transformation is quite far from what we can see from Julie Walters in Educating Rita. Working Girl's and Melanie's main goal was entertaining and no matter what people can talk into this film, it's nothing more than great fun. Neither is Melanie's performance.

Still, I liked the development in Tess' character. As I said, it's not a significant transformation, but I was still very much impressed by the fact that Melanie showed that Tess starts to resemble the likes of Siggy Weaver's character, while also remaining a simple girl from Staten Island as she can never really change. Although Joan Cusack steals the scene where this is stated, Melanie's pretty good on her own right.

She might be weak at delivering some of the lines or doesn't make them as strong as they could have been, but being clumsy might have just fit this character quite well. In fact, being a bit weak made this character even more realistic and brought her even closer to the audience. This way, even the occasional mistakes turn into something fun.

And no, you can't really ignore the fact how much the audience gets close to this woman, simply because she's so cute. That topless hoovering scene is so lovely despite lasting for like 3 seconds. These kinds of ordinary moments make this performance so special to me. It gives joy to an ordinary person because they can think 'Wow, it's like watching myself.' Some might look down on that, but sometimes you just have to loose yourself while watching a movie and leave your prejudices behind, very much like in the case of Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. Although I wouldn't really put Melanie on the same level, every once in a while, I had the same feeling (minus the bitterness).

I don't care if it's fashionable or not, I love Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. I sympathized with her and felt for her character throughout the movie, no matter if she was hoovering topless or changing her look or interacting with her men. I laughed with her, got sad with her and I just always wanted her to get to the top. I loved Melanie's clear, almost naive emotions, her optimism, her glowing, funny, joyous personality. A thrill for the dreamers and the naives who think they can get that office at the top. If you're willing to leave your cynicism behind, you'll love her. Pure feel-good fun.

What do you think? :) Surprised, huh? :-) 


Nues20 said...

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) D
To be honest I am really, really surprised I was expecting an extremely low mark!
What a surprise!
For me she is basically 'not there' on the screen.
I think the only bit I agree with you in is "Melanie Griffith got her only oscar nomination to date..." - thank God it is her only one! :) D
I agree about being able to fall in love with her though, maybe she gets better every re-watch.
I didn't love her but can see how people can.
I'll be really interested to see where Griffith comes in the mix.

My predictions

1) Meryl Streep (I still think it could happen!)
2) Glenn Close
3) Jodie Foster
4) Siggy Weaver
5) Melanie Griffith

These were my rankings as well :)

mrripley said...

I like her would have preffered a Sarandon or Curtis nod but she is solid and you do want her to succeed but Weaver and Cusack steal senes away from her to me it's a Bullock in The Blind Side performance,a nice solid perf in a solid entertaining film with gr8 supporting roles, when the support overshadow the lead then there is a problem but not as bad a people say.

Fritz said...

I somehow expected you to like her...I will give her a second try somedoay, maybe I'll react differently then...

joe burns said...

WOW!!!!! I totally disagree, her performance is very boring to me and the whole movie is a hollow mess.

But there are good moments, she is just horribly flat throughout the whole film.

I'm guessing she'll be 4th, with Weaver being the last. I could see you hating her.

Louis Morgan said...

Did not like the film or her performance. I have always found her voice a little grating.

JC said...

I SIMPLY LOVE HER and I'm really glad you did too!

She does not really do many remarkable stuff, but it's her embodiment of that common employee in New York that fascinates me.

I always have the delight and pleasure of watching Working Girl, and it's largely due to her.

Anonymous said...

"in fact, I feel like a member of a really cool and elite group who really gets the performance".... exactly my thoughts on Helen Hunt and her entire career LOL

moviefilm said...

At last somebody, who loves the film and Griffith's performance! I've seen it just once so far, but it's all great!