Friday, June 17, 2011

Sissy Spacek in Crimes of the Heart

Sissy Spacek received her fifth Best Actress nomination for playing Babe Magrath, a mentally unstable woman shoting her husband in the movie Crimes of the Heart. Somewhere, I read that Sissy Spacek and Kathleen Turner were considered the front-runners of 1986. However, I don't think that Sissy got that many votes. She was a previous Oscar winner plus this wasn't the type of performance that the Academy usually goes for. I think she was either fourth or fifth though I must say it's incredibly hard to speculate about her chances of winning. She was the critics' favorite, she got the Globe and yet I don't think the Academy wanted her to win that much.

Crimes of the Heart is not a bad movie, on the contrary, it's actually quite entertaining and I really had fun watching it. It was quite good though I wouldn't say it's very deep. Very much like Bruce Beresford's later work, Driving Miss Daisy it touches emotions only on the surface and it's rather soappy, not truly emotional. Tess Harper's Oscar nomination is a real mystery. She plays the most annoying character of the movie in quite an over-the-top way and she's really not that great. However, the leading actresses are really fine, especially Diane Keaton who gives a really great performance and she was by far the most sympathetic person here. Jessica Lange is a bit too much occasionally but she's OK, too.

Sissy Spacek is such a great actress and I admire her so much. She's quite unusual and that's what I love about her the most. There's so much intelligence, beauty in her roles and I'm always impressed by her unique presence. There's something about her that cannot be described with words. All in all, she's just fantastic and I always love watching her on the screen.

Becky 'Babe' Magrath is a really complicated person and I think that Sissy Spacek really was the best choice to play her. Babe shot her husband and she doesn't even try to deny it. She did it and that's it. She doesn't say anything else about this. However, more and more secrets come to surface and Babe just cannot do anything about it.

As I said, Sissy was probably the best choice to play such a weird role. She doesn't overplay or underplay the weirdness of Babe and she always finds the right balance. I think an inexperienced actress would have been too much in this role and couldn't have found the right way to play this character. I felt that Sissy knew this character really well and understood her emotions.

We can see Crimes of the Heart as a lighter version of Three Sisters by Chekhov and I guess it would make us understand it much more easily. In Chekhov's classic, the youngest sister, Irina is full of uncertainty and she doesn't know what do do exactly. I felt that Sissy Spacek injected some of Irina into Babe. Babe is also clueless about what to do and she just cannot make any decisions. Irina always wants to go to work and Babe always wants to kill herself and yet neither of them really succeeds. There are tries that could be considered 'almost' but that's it. Sissy showed this hopelessness of Babe excellently.

It's always risky if you get three really fantastic actresses in a movie. They either try to outdo each other or they support each other really well. Fortunately, with Crimes of the Heart, the latter is true. The three ladies are excellent together and I felt that they are really supportive of each other. Whenever they are all on the screen, it's a really great moment. I couldn't decide if I picked Keaton or Spacek as my favorite (Lange was a bit weaker than them), though. Their performances can only be understood if we look at them together.

Sissy is also quite great on her own, especially her suicide scenes. They are quite weird and yet Sissy somehow hold them back and they became really great as a result. We see more and more layers of Babe and it's really interesting to get to know things about her affair with a black boy of the town.

Although I feel that Spacek is really great as Babe Magrath, I think that this is not a fantastic or mindblowing performance and it's not one of Sissy's best. I really liked it and enjoyed all of the scenes but I feel that Sissy could do way better. She got everything out of this character that she could, it's just that I felt that she had way better works. Still, she's great.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Sissy is splendid here,and i also enjoyed this movie.And why is Harper's nomination a mystery?A win would be to much,but she was entertaining and nailed character wonderfully.

dinasztie said...

Why mystery? Well, because she was on the edge of being bad? She overacted.

mrripley said...

I don't think she overacted,i think you were supposed to hate her and you and i did so she accomplished her role,i would give her a nod,86 is weak in nearly every category supp actress is another,laurie and mastrantionio's nom i don't get,carrie henn in aliens was a better choice.

what were your picks.

sissy is ok but i just did not get the weirdness and loathed keaton,lange was my fave!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree. She was good, great even, but I'm at a loss as to why the NYFCC voted her the best of the year when there were so many other great performances that year.

Anonymous said...

I really want to see this film now! Great review! I love Sissy Spacek very much!

dinasztie said...

Anon: Not to get you down, but it's a hard-to-find movie.

Anonymous said...

@ dinasztie
Harper's character is over the top,so every decent actress would've played her that way.Today on the internet whenever character needs to be played over the top,bloggers accuse actor/actress of overacting.Thankfully,academy is different.

dinasztie said...

Anon: Well, I just didn't like Harper, that's it. But I'm glad she has her fans.

Anonymous said...

She was brilliant! I really think she's the best working actress nowadays, she never makes any wrong turns and she always grabs my attention, she was brilliant as Babe, she's my current pick for the Oscar of 1986!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a bit late to this party, but I feel I need to drop a comment. Sissy was great but that's not why I'm here. This comment is about the line in the movie re: asking why the mother took the cat with her upon suicide: Because she didn't want to go alone.

The sisters don't get along in the beginning and end up becoming one in the end. None of them end up alone in a higher sense. Pain, loss, and attacks from outside the family often bring siblings closer.

As for the movie having depth -- maybe it holds it for those who have experienced the pain. The experience of the movie is a healing mechanism. Enjoy it another time . . . again.