Monday, January 11, 2010

Robert on Kate as "Ophelia"

It's "Kate Winslet Day" Pass it on.

Kate Winslet is a full fledged star whose name conjures up memories of great performances from one of the best lead actresses of her generation. But it really wasn't that long ago that she was still a "promising young British actress." It probably didn't take Kenneth Branagh a long time to figure that she was a natural fit for the role of Ophelia when he was making his Hamlet (my favorite Shakespeare adaptation ever). She already had Heavenly Creatures and Sense and Sensibility behind her, so perhaps "very promising" is the right set of adjectives to describe where she stood.

The role of Ophelia comes ready-made with a great scene (I'd say Oscar-clip but somehow The Academy didn't feel it necessary to recognize one of Kate's best performances). Act IV Scene 5 is iconic, and Kate plays crazy without ever seeming overcooked. But this isn't my favorite moment of her performance. Her best moment is in Act III Scene 1. When the most famous monologue in all of Shakespeare's plays has come to an end, the real fireworks between Hamlet and Ophelia begin. If, as the cliche states, "acting is re-acting" then Kate's reacting to Branagh's scenery chewing is nothing short of brilliant. What we're watching is a young woman's heart break right before our very eyes. In a career filled with great moments and in a movie filled with fine performances it stands out.

"Get thee to an awards stage!"
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14 comments:

Guy said...

Good lord, when I saw the flood of Kate Winslet posts here -- before reading Nathaniel's explanation of Kate Winslet Day -- I thought for an awful few moments that she'd died or something! Perhaps you should post a reassurance at the top ;)

Anyway, wonderful posts all. But is nobody going to write anything about her genius performance in "Extras"?

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Thank you for writing about this Hamlet, a film too few people talk about. By far the best Claudius the screen has seen.

But back to Kate: yes, wonderful and beautiful.

Jim T said...

Guy, I am! Her precision in Extras was amazing! It's like, "when she's bad, she's even better".

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Kate is wonderful as Ophelia BUT that particular scene to which you refer always holds more weight for me when Helena Bonham Carter does it. Of course choosing Kate or HBC is like picking children and Kate's Ophelia does get to "do" more. Her descent into Ophelia's madness is the most tragic [and moving] of the screen, though. She was the best thing in this VERY GOOD version.

Bryan said...

I agree-- Kate is the best Ophelia I've seen. I kind of liked a version Helena Bonham Carter did, but when she played it, it was kind of like, "Do you get it? She's CRAZY! See?" With Kate, you're right, it's not overcooked at all.

And when she's sitting down and softly singing to herself? Nothing ever felt so tragic.

Robert Hamer said...

Oh, man, someone's GOT to mention her hilariously prophetic guest spot on Extras!

Definitely looking forward to it, Jim t.

gabrieloak said...

Thanks for writing about Hamlet, a film that not many people have seen.. I always hoped to see the film on a larger screen since it was filmed in 70mm, but I had to settle for the Paris Theater in NYC. I wish they had shown it for a week at the Ziegfeld.

inessentials said...

You've left out the best part of Kate as Ophelia: After surviving 4 hours of James Cameron's TITANIC, in HAMLET, Kate drowns! Oh, the irony! I will always remember this film for that single shot.

Jim T said...

Robert, I wish I meant what you got. I just meant that I was more than happy to comment on how good she was!

Chris Na Taraja said...

Helena usually plays, "look how crazy I am." which annoys the hell out of me. Crazy should be played like playing drunk, it's much better of the person is trying hard to not appear as twisted as they are.

I was pleasantly surprised by her Mrs. Lovett, she didn't seem to be puching the "look how crazy I am" to hard, and i'ts one of her better performances.

I have not seen the Ken B HAMLET. He annoys me more than Helana, becuase he is usually playing, "Look how great I am." i hear that it's one of the best Hamlets on Film though.

Nigel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nigel said...

Yes, Winselt charoled along as Ophelia with such ease and unquestionable talent.


I'm surprised they haven't attached her to a Diana Spencer bio-pic by now.......Too bad she might lose out to Keira Knightely if a script ever materializes. She's the only other actress I see fit to handle such a political role,given the way she commanded respect in "The Duchess."

NATHANIEL R said...

inessentials. HAHA good point.

Nigel said...

oops typo, caroled*