Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Signatures: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Adam of Club Silencio here with a look at my favorite actresses and their distinguishing claims to fame.

I've no reason to believe Maggie Gyllenhaal got where she is today because of anything other than talent. She's got a wisdom and savvy well beyond her years and a cool ease on camera. Maggie's one of the finest of her acting generation, and she's worked hard to get to get to that level.

In fact the entire Gyllenhaal family's got baffling levels of talent and sex appeal, not to mention all sorts of other awesome connections. Maggie's tied down Peter Sarsgaard and her brother Jake's godparents are none other than legends Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest. How much better are they than your family?! It's probably a favorite topic of dinner conversation in the Gyllenhaal house...


Still, Maggie seems pretty modest about her envious position off-screen. On-screen it's a completely different story... Her most beloved performances (Lee in Secretary, Sherry in Sherrybaby and Jude in Happy Endings) tell of characters struggling to transcend their place and limitations -- trying to find a way out of their emotional funk. Each of them cutters, recovering addicts and karaoke singers, looking for a way to get ahead in this often cold and cruel cinematic world. Apparently all it takes is some light bondage and feigning an interest in Tom Arnold.


Sex can be painful, humiliating and, at least in the case of Maggie's characters, a means for survival. Maggie says the sexuality in her roles is a layer unto itself, "In my life and in my work, I'm interested in sex as a way of communication, I'm not interested in the fantasy version of a sex scene where everything's like a softcore porn movie. I'm interested in, why communicate things through sex? Is there no other way to communicate this thing? It's another way of talking, for some people now, it's the way they communicate."


Sex opens doors to job promotions, getting back the custody of your child, and bigger and better karaoke venues. Take it from Maggie: communication is key.


(P.S. Jake, let's talk. )

12 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

I love this series and am proud to host it. Maggie G really is such an actress, confident and individualistic and just fascinating to watch. I hope she find another Sherrybaby soon that can break out of the arthouse ghetto and get her in an Oscar lineup.

she's still waiting and that's not right.

Ariella said...

What's that line from Donnie Darko, "How exactly do you suck a fuck?" Too funny, I love them together.

ryan said...

Awesome write up- that last pic is great. (Damn I need to rewatch SECRETARY)

I too am really loving this series- and second everything you say regarding Maggie. So talented and so her own person.

Now if I recall correctly, didn’t you have a poll- pre-BROKEBACK- for your readers on whether they preferred Jake or Maggie? Just out of curiosity, do you still have the results or remember who won?
Anyhow- I’m just glad they’ve both been warmly welcomed to Hollywood’s A-list.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Did anybody see that Strip Search movie she starred in for Sidney Lumet, that got weirdly thrown away by HBO, who even more weirdly demanded a 55-minute edit, and has never surfaced on DVD apart from this, as far as I can tell?

NATHANIEL R said...

i have never even heard of that!

but i need to watch sherrybaby right away again i think and also on a total coincidence note: my itunes on random this morning played her absolutely gorgeous number (well one of them) from HAPPY ENDINGS "I Can't Wait" and I remembered all over again how incredible she was in that movie and that I used to listen to that soundtrack constantly to hear her voice.

i hope she plays a singer again.

Adam said...

I love her rendition of "How Lucky Am I" and listened to that while writing this post. Eerily appropriate.

I'd love her to play a singer again, but I'd love her to avoid being in biopics. "Secretary: The Musical" anyone? Imagine songs like "Having a Safe Word" or "Cruel to be Kind."

NATHANIEL R said...

...or "Golden Showers" I seem to remember some deskbound peeing despite trying to block it out.

NicksFlickPicks said...

One also pines for the entire feature that Lodge Kerrigan built around Maggie and Peter, and then filmed in its entirety, and then lost all the footage in some kind of post-production accident. Let's assume that it was fabulous.

NATHANIEL R said...

Nick... now i think you're just torturing/teasing me. Is this a Flora Plum thing or a Don Plum thing? The difference is E-NOR-MOUS as you well know!?

NATHANIEL R said...

and Adam... didn't you mean to say "P.S. Jake, let's communicate" (in Maggie's fashion)

Adam said...

...I thought it made sense, but obviously I don't communicate well. Although I'm happy to let Jake teach me the Gyllenhaal Method.

Emma said...

Maggie = Goddess.