Adam of Club Silencio here with another look at my favorite actresses and their distinguishing claims to fame.
[Note: Adam and I arrived at our Uma fixation independently this week so I saved his post a couple of days. That was probably unnecessary because is there such a thing as too much UMA? -Nathaniel]
Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but Uma Thurman manages to give it plenty of warmth -- even as she spends her comas and college years cleverly biding her time. Often she plays women whose traumatic experiences have forced her to inflict some trauma, but there's always a vulnerability to her vigilante justice. Even a Black Mamba can suffer hysterical blindness.
Her dynamite showcase in Kill Bill trails her from badass Bride to Beatrix Kiddo, and none of that hard-fought bloodshed would be worth it without Uma's sentimental side. It both softens and strengthens the blow -- like a kick to the throat while you're choking on emotion. It's no wonder Quentin Tarantino designed this epic specifically for Uma from head to (wiggle your) big toe. Uma's strength isn't just in her physicality but in the aches she exudes elsewhere. It's one thing to cheer on her carnage-laden comeuppance, but Uma's ass kickings pick up where so many exploitation films leave off. Her vengeance is gained by the loss she demonstrates so clearly and feels so believably. An avenging mother, a confidant betrayed; the film compares her fittingly to a lioness and her cub. Tender yet savage. Uma roars and rampages, and we get bloody satisfaction.
Uma's a powerhouse even without a sword and a list of names. Take her turn as Amy in the underseen Tape, in which an alleged rape in her high school past is verified on tape and brings about her powerplay and chance for resolve ten years later. Mind games and verbal manipulation are as potent as poison. It's the perfect means for revenge... and less messy. As Amy states in the film, "...If you're truly repentant, you should be willing to pay the price." It could just as easily be a quote from Kill Bill, and similarly so, Amy reasserts herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Her softer-sided characters are just as well rounded, but they too contain some hard edges. In fact they're just about square...
Mia Wallace (Pulp Fiction) and Debby Miller (Hysterical Blindness) are two of her most charismatic, sultry and endearing performances. Both characters desperately need a shot of adrenaline -- one more literally than the other. Heroin and hairspray are the drugs of choice to stave off the tedium involved in being a rich housewife or single girl in New Jersey. In their own way they are the outlaws of their respective worlds and just as vulnerable. Mia gets to play while the (psychotic) hubby's away, and Debby is used to going it alone in the down and dirty world of dating in the eighties. Even without a vengeance, these characters showcase Uma's ability to pull all the pain from a bad situation with plenty of external strength. Hunting for a dream man or a five dollar milkshake; neither seems worth the effort without Uma on hand to tap into all the misery and eventual sweetness.
Uma's gift is like the "Five Pointed Palm Exploding Heart Technique." Use subtlety, just the right amount of force, and head straight to the heart.