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?
Bree Daniels in Klute
Lillian Hellman in Julia
Sally Hyde in Coming Home
Kimberly Wells in The China Syndrome
Alex Sternbergen in The Morning After
And for all these, Jane Fonda gets a big fat last