Saturday, November 17, 2012

Farewell, Jane! :)

Studying Jane Fonda's performances has been a long and uplifting journey and in the end, I'm both sad and grateful. From my part, it started with a not too flattering review about her performance in Coming Home. Still, I consider that a significant step on my journey. Back then, I didn't get her (and quite frankly, I wasn't that open back then, I pretty much imagined a certain ranking for myself and adjusted my views to that) and I'm not sure that I understand her now, but I feel that I get her acting in general. And it's not about numbers for me, even though all of her performances received the maximum number of points and she was also my winner twice (and all the others being close runners-up). 

First and foremost, Jane Fonda's imperfect. You could find actresses who might pull off the technical part of a performance much "better" than she does and yet for me, she's the best of the best. All of the minor (or even major?) flaws add to her characters and her uncertainty about herself shines through the screen. She's not relaxed, she can be inconfident and this is what makes her so close to me as an actress and as a human being. She's able to reveal flaws of the characters like nobody's business and she can affect with her performances like nobody else. Her talent is somewhat confusing to me: it's all in her genes, it's in her flesh, acting is quite simply coming out of her. She's close to everyone in her performances: she can grab the attention of both an M.D. and a shop assistant. Her characters are so layered that it's just impossible not to find something to love and cherish about her.

And her astonishing beauty is worthy of thousand odes. She uses it so wonderfully and it makes her performances even more expressive and yes, attractive. What we see on the screen is a stunning actress with enourmous talent and a human being with a backbone of steel plus tons of dignity.

Reviewing Jane enabled me to go further into her career. Her development as an actress is worthy of another post. I'm kind of bitter that an "ordinary Oscar blogger" (who's not a big Fonda-fan) doesn't get to review her fantastic, effortless comedic work and doesn't get to witness her buzzing personality in Barefoot in the Park or Nine to Five. And yes, it's crazy that The Dollmaker was made for TV (I've reviewed it, too), that one should be an easy pick for 1984 Best Actress. She is indeed a miracle worker, turning even the most horrible pictures into something tolerable (at least) with her astonishing, relatable, sympathetic or hilarious acting (Monster-in-Law, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding or The Morning After). I actually don't even care about the quality of the movie she stars in if I can watch her.

I love you Jane! Thanks for the amazing experience!

So here we go again, all her (perfect-graded performances), in their infinite glories, demonstrating Jane's unbelievable, untoppable versatility: 

Gloria Beaty in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
*1969 Champion*

Bree Daniels in Klute
*1971 Champion*

 Lillian Hellman in Julia 
*1977 Runner-Up*

 Sally Hyde in Coming Home
*1978 Runner-up*

 Kimberly Wells in The China Syndrome
 *1979 Runner-up*

Alex Sternbergen in The Morning After
*1986 Runner-up*

And for all these, Jane Fonda gets a big fat last

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1979


So the much anticipated ranking is:

I cannot conclude that Marsha turns in some really special work in Chapter Two, her performance adds some life to the movie and prevent it from becoming a cure for chronic insomnia. Her luminous, interesting presence and impeccable delivery make you go on with the movie. Still she's not able to pull off the harder, more emotional scenes.

 Jill Clayburgh gives a really charming, likeable performance in Starting Over, that really is much better than the film it's in. She  creates a very human character that seems very easy to relate to. Although her chemistry with Burt Reynolds is not perfect, the most important thing is that Jill is able to tell you why Phil fell in love with Marilyn. Very enjoyable lightweight work. 

Bette Midler's performance is a real emotional roller coaster that's outstanding in every possible way and does so seeming natural all the time. She's everything that people like to see on screen, she indeed sings, dances and dies. I could mention her loud breakdowns, her amazing singing or her tender moments with Frederick Forrest, it wouldn't describe properly how fantastic she is.
Jane Fonda is nothing short of amazing in The China Syndrome. What could seem to be one of her least passionate performances is in fact one of the most mysterious and layered ones she's ever given. As usual, she commands every scene as well as develops her character beautifully, adding new layers and dimensions to her in every minute. Jane so wonderously portrays Kimberly's awakening and development as a person that you just marvel at every little detail in this performance.

Sally Field is perfect as Norma Rae. She developed this character with great care and expertise and you just constanly feel how much compassion she has for this woman. Every single scene, every single monologue of hers is exceptionally done by her, making it especially difficult not to fall in love with her and the character. A deeply affecting, wonderful, unforgettable performance, the true highlight of a great actress' career. 
So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Sally Field
Norma Rae
You got what you wanted Sally. :)

Final thoughts: What a year! Three truly knockout performances that will be really high in my ranking. No matter how strict I tried to be, the work of these three women was just unbelievable. Sally won this for me rather easily though I'm really sad that I can't say goodbye to Jane with another win. In the end, I narrowed it down to the two of them, Bette fell behind a bit (I love her and would be my pick in many other years). Jill and especially Marsha were far behind these amazing ladies, but I found many things to be respected and loved in there respective performances. Overall, a wonderfully interesting year, which is right up there with the best (1989 is still my favorite, though, for whatever reason, 1979 is very close). 

If you think that Jane won't get a special tribute after this, something's seriously wrong with you. :) She'll get it from me.

  • Vera Pap in Angi, Vera *My pick* (in a tie with Sally)
About the next year: I'll get to do a year from a decade I rarely cover, let's leave it there. Let's say that this is the very first Oscar year that Jane Fonda took part in (even if it was a small one) :)). I can't part with her, sorry. 

What do you think? Any thoughts on your mind?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sally Field in Norma Rae

I imagine how Jane Fonda, Jill Clayburgh and Marsha Mason all must have been like "DAMN!" when Sally Field took home the Oscar over them for a role that they all passed on. Sally Field basically swept all the awards for her performance as the textile worker Norma Rae, who's fighting for a union in Martin Ritt's Best Picture nominated film, Norma Rae. I don't really think that her win came as a surprise for anyone, save for Bette Midler maybe, who still seems to be somewhat pissed by this particular loss of hers. Although Sally may not have won by a landslide, I think she pretty much had it in the Oscar in the bag.

One of the reasons for having an advantage over others was that Sally Field was starring in an important, controversial movie that received a Best Picture nomination. And I have to agree with The Academy here: Norma Rae is a profound, upsetting and uplifting piece of work, which is a beautiful story of a woman's development as well as a political movie. It deserved all the nominations and was worthy of the Oscar for Best Original Song for the moving theme of "It Goes Like It Goes". I was also wondering whether or not the other actors deserved nominations for their respective performances. On the one hand, I'm not sure since 1979 was a strong year in Best Supporting Actor.

On the other hand, Norma Rae is The Sally Field Show and therefore she overshadows every other actor in the movie, no matter how beautifully they support her (this is not criticism in any way, it's more of an observation about the movie itself). If there's an actress to whom a one-woman-show is suitable, it's Sally Field who always dominates the screen with her non-apologetical, almost shameless emotionality. She approaches her characters emotionally rather than intellectuall, which made her the perfect choice for complicated women, like M'Lynn from Steel Magnolias, Maggie Wyczenski on ER (Abby's bipolar mother) or her latest role, Mary Todd Lincoln. And that's also why I think her work in Places in the Heart didn't work on every level. Her persona is just not fit for being toned down, she's way too vivid and colorful to play ordinary, repressed women.

Of all the possible choices for Norma's part, I don't have difficulties imagining Jane Fonda or Marsha Mason as Norma since I believe that both of them would have done an excellent job portraying the soul of a revolutionary (for Jane, it wouldn't have been a real challange) and yet I'm glad that even Jane turned down the part (mind you, this rarely happens to me). Sally Field made Norma Rae her own in such a way that she herself also disappeared completely into her. There are no boundaries anymore between the character and the actress. She applies The Method in the most in the most unusual and exciting way, fabulously adjusting herself to the character and vice versa.

I've seen people being turned off by Sally's very first scene where her character is yelling to the doctor about how her mother became deaf and although it indeed feels like being kicked in the butt right away, I felt that was necessary for the introduction to the character. Norma is not a person who likes beating around the bush, she's the kind of person who's wearing her heart on her sleeve and doesn't hold back anything. However, I felt that, unlike Bette Midler, Sally tried not to completely get carried away by the part because overacting could easily work with The Rose, but it could have ruined Norma's character completely. I was delighted by the fact that Field figured out that Norma was a raw and emotional person, not a wreck. Sally exceptionally balanced subtlety with over-the-top screaming and all of that served the character.

Also, what totally amazes me about this performance is that Norma Rae is not far as baity as it sounds, it's just a damn difficult part to pull off and yet Sally succeeded brilliantly. First of all, Sally's Southern accent is just impeccable and so believable that I actually looked up where she was born after I finished the film (she's a California girl, actually). It really is an authentic portrayal of a Southern working-class woman without any pity or feeling of superiority from the actor's part. Sally portrays Norma with the maximum amount of compassion and understanding.

And this is probably the greatest achievement of Sally, which was most definitely the reason why she won the Oscar: this passion about her character is almost contagious. Not only do we sympathise with her as her audience, but we also get to see her values, we get into her head and she revolutionises our way of thinking about the issue of the movie. I suppose Martin Ritt was aware of the fact that the movie's success and effect was all due to Sally and I guess choosing the actress who gave the world The Flying Nun was risky (even though she'd given an acclaimed performance in Sybil). However, Sally, in my opinion, did more than communicating "the message", she made us all decide what we think about the importance of an issue. And this kind of a move can be so refreshing among Hollywood movies when everything is all prepared for us and we don't even have to think. Sally touches both your heart and your brain as Norma.

Also, the way she develops this character is nothing short of extraordinary: she portrays Norma's awakening so brilliantly. She points out that Norma may not be the most educated or intelligent, but her courage and passion sets the screen on fire (to say the least). As I said, her passion is contagious. Norma is actually in many ways like Kimberly Wells from The China Syndrome: she gradually becomes aware of the world surrounding her and it's in every way an uplifting journey for the viewer as well. Sally didn't choose to be as subtle as Jane, I don't think one can hold that against her since subtlety simply doesn't fit the character.

Sally is seriously so fantastic in this movie and her acting works on so many levels that I can't even choose her greatest scene. If you're looking for a subtle one, her conversation with her children is the one that stands out the most: the quiet tenderness that seems strange from that character at first becomes so effective and heartbreaking in just two seconds and Sally conveys so many emotions in the that quietness. However, if you're looking for a big scene that went down in film history, the big riot in the factory has to be the standout. She's loud, unapologetic and totally brilliant and makes you associate the word "union" with her forever.

Quite simply, Sally Field is perfect as Norma Rae. She developed this character with great care and expertise and you just constanly feel how much compassion she has for this woman. Every single scene, every single monologue of hers is exceptionally done by her, making it especially difficult not to fall in love with her and the character. A deeply affecting, wonderful, unforgettable performance, the true highlight of a great actress' career.

What do you think? :) 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marsha Mason in Chapter Two

Marsha Mason received her third nomination in the Best Actress category for playing Jennie MacLaine, a fictionalized version of herself in the movie Chapter Two. Marsha hadn't received any awards for this performance, only a Golden Globe nomination in Best Actress - Musical/Comedy where she really didn't have much of a chance of winning, either considering she was nominated alongside the powerhouse performance of Bette Midler. I suppose Chapter Two combined with Promises in the Dark ensured Marsha's position in that year's Best Actress line-up. I'm not sure, though, if she was able to get ahead of Jill Clayburgh (probably not) so unlike the other years, Marsha didn't have any chance of winning (not even her biggest fans love this performance of hers as much as, say Only When I Laugh). 

Chapter Two, quite frankly, is a terrible movie that I have no intention of rewatching in the foreseeable future, only if someone's life depends on it. Although it's not Gloria or The Morning After level of horribleness, it's pretty much like Afterglow: pointless, boring, it's just dragging with the viewer literally praying for it to end quickly. I really admire Neil Simon as a writer, but I suppose his material always works much better on stage (except for the outrageously funny comedies, like The Odd Couple or Barefoot in the Park). His exagerrated, unrealistic style works wonderfully on stage, but leads to forced and boring movies that are uplifted by the performances. I must say, though, that nobody uplifts Chapter Two: not James Caan and not even my dear Valerie Harper. 

Well, nobody, except for Marsha Mason. Just like in Cinderella Liberty, Marsha doesn't give a totally amazing, mindblowing performance, but she illuminates the screen anyhow whenever she's present in a scene. Although I wouldn't say that I'm a huge fan of hers, I admire her luminous aura that's best displayed in The Goodbye Girl. It's true that that her marriage to Neil Simon gave some boost to her career, her performances have their respective merits as well. While Simon wrote some nice parts for Marsha, she was the heart and soul of these pictures.

That being said, in Chapter Two, Marsha had the easiest/hardest part: she basically had to play herself. Some people regard the performances of Gloria Swanson and Mickey Rourke in Sunset Blvd. and The Wrestler, respectively, as inferior ones since they basically recreate their own experiences. In those cases, you can easily dismiss these arguments since some similar events in the respective lives of these two performers only made the part more suitable for them. However, Marsha actually replays her life on the screen (in a fictionalised, more dramatised way, probably).

First of all, Chapter Two tries to become a touching potrait of two complicated people, searching for new meanings in life. In the beginning, Marsha's scenes rank with her best performances: her delivery is amazing, she gets all the lines, she's lovely, funny, dynamic and you just cannot wait to see more of her. Actually, I believe the scenes with James Caan kill her balanced, excellent work. First of all, Caan gives such a bored/boring performance that puts James Franco's Oscar hosting into shame. That being said, the chemistry could have worked between the two actors like it did in Cinderella Liberty, but, alas, it doesn't.

Also, while the movie was considered a Comedy at the Golden Globes, I felt it fell (flat) between Drama and Comedy. It pushed hard to be seen as serious, but Neil Simon just couldn't resist writing one or two ironic one-liners. As a result, for most of the time, the actors are standing there, completely clueless about what to do, hoping that the respect for Simon carries them to success. Unfortunately, I felt that abour Marsha as well. Sometimes she gave the character from The Goodbye Girl, sometimes she played her role from Only When I Laugh (in advance). I could almost see her crossing her fingers, saying "please let it go right". And it's actually right occasionally.

Still, the previously mentioned luminous presence of Marsha makes up for a number of things. Whenever the movie is unbearably boring and slow, Marsha makes you go on with the film. She develops her character quite well, actually, and it's interesting to see her how this movie obviously resonates with her own life. Although she's obviously playing herself, she fearlessly reveals intimate details about herself.

The movie gets a total chaos after the honeymoon and although Marsha seems to give up trying, she stands tall as much as the movie lets her. Although the last scenes seem to be painful recreations of The Goodbye Girl, I didn't mind, since Marha did what she does best: being charming and portraying happiness. Few people can deliver a happy ending like she does, that's for sure.

So I cannot conclude that Marsha turns in some really special work in Chapter Two, her performance adds some life to the movie and prevent it from becoming a cure for chronic insomnia. Her luminous, interesting presence and impeccable delivery make you go on with the movie. Still, since she's not able to pull of the harder, more emotional scenes, I'd say that this was more of a respectable, but a bit failed effort from a strong performer.

What do you think? And thanks to Alex again for providing me with access to the film!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bette Midler in The Rose

Bette Midler, also known as The Divine Miss M received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Mary Rose Foster, "The Rose", a tortured singer modeled after the late Janis Joplin in the movie The Rose. Although The Rose was obviously made as an Oscar vehicle for Bette Midler, Sally Field's Norma Rae stood in the way of Bette's Oscar dreams. Nevetheless, Bette was able to gain tons of fans of this work of hers and her supporters must have been backing her while voting though I suppose that wasn't enough to get ahead of Sally. Still, I believe Bette was a close second.

The Rose is a movie that doesn't offer anything revolutionary in its genre though I believe it's much better than Lady Sings The Blues (a movie made with very similar goals for the famous lead actress). At least the filmmakers in this case had the decency not to claim it was an autobiography so that they can adjust it to Bette Midler's talent and persona. Mark Rydell's never been a favorite of mine (the only film of his I enjoy is On Golden Pond, but that's mostly because the autobiographical connections with the Fondas) and this film is definitely not his masterpiece. Although sometimes it's painfully dragging along, it's intense enough occasionally to capture the viewer's imagination (I must add, though, that it can be because of The Rose's character and Bette's performance). Frederick Forrest gives a really proper performance that adds lots of balance to do movie and balances the over-the-top acting of Bette excellently. A well-deserved Oscar nomination.

And we have Bette Midler in her first big starring role as The Rose. At that point, Bette was no stranger to show business, having won Gramys and gaining acclaim for her work on stage. Since she was already a big star, it was time for her to break into the film industry as well and I believe there wasn't a better role for her to achieve that goal. It obviously has Oscar written all over it and it's very similar to the case of Diana Ross in 1972. Take the tragic life of a singer, adjust it a little bit to the lead actress and you can sit back and enjoy the superlatives. However, there's an undeniable difference between the two ladies: unlike Ross, Bette's talents are not restricted only to music, she's also a damn brilliant actress. Bette Midler essentially embodies everything that show business is all about: outrageous comedy, over-the-top drama, towering presence, singing, dancing, love, laughter and death.

Unfortunately, I'm not acquainted with Bette's singing career, but from what I heard, her songs are not the most earth-shattering rock records. While Mary Rose Foster's style couldn't be more different from what Bette's used to, The Divine Miss M's singing rock like nobody's business. I suppose this is the point when I can criticise myself why Bette's singing mattered here and why Marion's lip-syncing didn't in La vie en rose. Since people probably expected basically Bette's performance from Marion, it must have been quite a disappointment. However, Bette had an advantage over Marion: in Mary Rose Foster, she created a brand new character whose life was loosely based on that of Janis Joplin. It would have been just as difficult to imitate Janis' real voice (even for a brilliant singer like Bette), but Midler did something even more important: she evokes Janis Joplin's dazzling, fantastic aura that makes it so easy to understand why the whole world went crazy for her. Bette's turn is a Star Turn with a capital S and a capital T. :)

Not only does Midler perfectly recreate Janis' star power on the screen, she also points out spectacularly why people are so obsessed with this singer or any other star that they run on stage to touch her, too feel her close to them. Midler so effortlessly concludes that it's not only Janis Joplin that she recreated in The Rose. It's also The Rolling Stones, The Beatles or even stars like Michael Jackson, Madonna or Lady Gaga. Bette draws a perfect portrait of ultimate stardom: she portrays all the love towards stars, but also how this immense fame isolates them from the rest of society. In the end, The Rose is just as isolated and as much of an outcast as a homeless person.

And if you thought that this all was enough for a spectacular performance, you don't know the half of it. :) Bette brilliantly shows addiction and how damaging alcohol and drugs are to The Rose. She doesn't hold back at all and mercilessly reveals the torture of this woman, making this movie a real emotional roller coaster. The Rose is a real wreck in every possible way and her breakdowns are real treats for anyone who loves over-the-top acting. Although it's true that there isn't one subtle moment in Bette's performance, I think this chaos has an even greater effect on the viewer. I must quickly add, though, that Bette is perfectly aware of how far she can go and even though she's almost crossing the line, she manages to remain believable and harrowing instead of total crazy overacting.

The more tender and playful moments of this film come when Frederick Forrest enters the screen as Houston, the boyfriend of The Rose. His presence brings balance to the movie and Bette's performance and these two are playing off each other wonderfully and they show how these two people are changing each other's lives.

That being said, the most painful and harrowing moments of the movie comes when The Rose returns to her hometown. The Rose's desire of proving her own greatness to her folks at home is brilliantly portrayed by Bette and that's what makes her scene at the store just as painful as her phone call from the football field where she's nothing short of spectacular: she's able to show vulnerability and suffering so painfully that one just keeps marvelling at the intensity of Bette's performance. At the bottom, she holds everything back. This breakdown is different from everything that we saw from The Rose: it's not loud, not over-the-top, it's something deeper and more disturbing. Witnessing the last hours of a person's life is always hard for the viewer but Bette makes it almost unbearable. I tell you all, it's probably the greatest scene I've witnessed since the start of these reviews (it's up there with Jane's tape scene from Klute).

This intensity is what makes the very last scene of Bette even more cathartic and uplifting: what you can hear is just a divine voice that changed many lives. The death of The Rose is inevitable and Bette's singing makes it so dramatic and earth-shattering that only compares to an opera. And this is Midler's greatest achievement: showing all the emotions of a human being with her over-the-top but ultimately mindblowing acting.

All in all, Bette Midler's performance is a real emotional roller coaster that's outstanding in every possible way and does so seeming natural all the time. She's everything that people like to see on screen, she indeed sings, dances and dies. I could mention her loud breakdowns, her amazing singing or her tender moments with Frederick Forrest, it wouldn't describe properly how fantastic she is. It's indeed a piece of work that make Bette perfectly deserving of the title of "The Divine Miss M" and also a big

What do you think? :) 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jill Clayburgh in Starting Over

Jill Clayburgh received her second Oscar nomination for playing Marilyn Holmberg, a neurotic schoolteacher having an on-again-off-again relationship with Burt Reynolds' character in Starting Over. Jill had previously received a Golden Globe nomination and yet I'm very surprised that she managed to pull off this nomination, considering the fact that Jill was in contention for a Drama as well. I suppose this film was more successful and had more hype than La luna. Interesting enough, three of the Comedy Actress nominees went on to receive Oscar nomination (that's something that quite rarely happens). I'm not sure if Jill or Marsha was the fifth finally, but I guess Jill had more leftover love from last year (though you can say the same about Marsha's 1977 nod). 

Although Starting Over tries to be a very intelligent romantic comedy, much in the style of Annie Hall, it becomes a weak imitation of that classic way too often. It's much more Hollywood (change Woody to Burt Reynolds) and it's humor is much less sarcastic. In fact, I didn't find this movie funny at all despite the fact that I knew which parts were supposed to make me laugh. That being said, Burt Reynolds gives a proper performance, though hardly one that screams an Oscar nomination to me. Same goes for Candice Bergen, who's really sexy and is singing that catchy song excellently, but fails to give any depth to her character. I'm not surprised by her nomination, though (she's a sexy Hollywood insider, so there we go). 

The only thing about Starting Over that's not screaming Hollywood seems to be Jill Clayburgh, fresh off her An Unmarried Woman fame. She obviously doesn't fit the criteria of the sexy Hollywood lead in this movie: first of all, co-lead at best and she's also not sexy in a very traditional way. I suppose Clayburgh's career was very much about challenging Old Hollywood's idea of how a woman really "should be" and in fact, she tried to portray the reality. And I suppose that's what made her so popular in the seventies, when American cinema took a radical turn from what it was and didn't become what it was later in the eighties. Jill Clayburgh is one of the typical 70s figures.

This way, Marilyn Holmberg also seems to be out of place in Starting Over, especially comparing her to Candice Bergen's character: Marilyn is neurotic, insecure and she's basically the definition of the ugly(ish) duckling that doesn't turn out to be a beautiful swan. Although she may be an ugly duckling, it's just impossible not to fall in love with her, when she starts yelling at Burt Reynolds in her first scene. It's easy to see why she made such a strong impression on him. 

What I really enjoy about this performance is that it's coming from an era when quirky didn't mean the annoying Zooey Deschanel, but something utterly loveable and natural. What I mostly loved about Jill here is that the charm and wit of Marilyn was coming out of her so naturally and effortlessly. This kind of performance can seem incerdibly artificial if the actress doesn't possess a natural charm. Many people compare Marilyn to Diane Keaton's Annie Hall and even accuse Jill of imitating Diane, which has some merit, though I feel it's more the screenplay that tries to outdo Annie Hall, making Marilyn even weirder, even more neurotic and putting her in even more awkward situations. Although Jill occasionally surrenders to that cause, most of the time she manages to add her very own touch to this character. 

Also, if I had to find a better comparision to this character, it would be Diane Chambers in Cheers. Shelley Long's flawless, perfect performance showed three years later (on television, Hollywood was too busy making popular blockbusters at the time) what Marilyn should have been, how she should have been written and acted. I think Long would have done miracles with Marilyn, turning her into one of the most iconic characters of the seventies, with a very simple thing: subtlty. If Jill's was also a perfect performance, I probably wouldn't be able to imagine anyone else in this part, but in every scene, I was wondering how brilliant Shelley Long would have been (and how amazing Ted Danson would have been in Burt Reynold's role!!!). You could blame it on the fact that Cheers has been on my mind lately (true), but I cannot ignore the obvious comparisions in the character.

What made me think about that is also the most brilliant chemistry ever between Danson and Long, which Reynolds and Clayburgh do no have. I should obviously think that despite all of the differences, Phil and Marilyn were destined to be together and I always had my doubts if they really were. However, I felt that it's more of Burt Reynolds' fault than Jill's. Since he failed at showing the dilemma of the character believably, Jill's excellent job seems to be wasted and the movie is about how they are supposed to be together, no matter what.

That being said, Jill Clayburgh excels the most in the scenes when Marilyn has meltdowns over Phil's behavior. Jill points out brilliantly how Marilyn becomes the most honest when she's raging and yelling. Although it's not that obvious that Marilyn is putting on a performance with her calm self, she seems way more honest this way. :)

Jill was able to make up for most of the mistakes of the screenplay: although it never intends to make Marilyn more than an interesting turn in the story, Jill created something more complex that really is, by far, the biggest achievement in the movie. Jill could have done even more with this character if she had been given better material, but she' charming even under the limitations of the story.

It boils down to one thing in the end: Jill Clayburgh gives a really charming, likeable performance in Starting Over, that really is much better than the film it's in. She  creates a very human character that seems very easy to relate to. Although her chemistry with Burt Reynolds is not perfect, the most important thing is that Jill is able to tell you why Phil fell in love with Marilyn. Very enjoyable lightweight work.

What do you think? :)