Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Monologue: "We blew it, Caitlin"

Hello, all! Kurt Osenlund here from Your Movie Buddy, making my inaugural contribution to The Film Experience while Nathaniel explores the (very) wet and (sorta) wild country of Iceland (having paid a visit myself in March, I can safely say he is having one unique vacay).

After scouring the countless monologues filed away in my memory, I settled on Peter Sarsgaard’s climactic outburst in Shattered Glass, the supremely watchable journalism drama from writer/director Billy Ray. Released in 2003, it's the movie that kick-started my undying affection for Sarsgaard, and I know I'm not alone in that regaard (I certainly wasn't alone while heavily sighing after Sigourney Weaver didn't announce his name on Oscar nomination morning). Sarsgaard was solid in Boys Don’t Cry, but that film certainly didn’t offer the scene-stealing showmanship he wields so effortlessly as The New Republic’s conscientious office-bad-guy, editor Chuck Lane.

Having watched Shattered over and over, I specifically relish the moment Chuck finally blows his top when confronted by colleague Caitlin (Boys costar Chloe Sevigny), who, like the rest of his staff, has been bewitched by charming, delusional story-spinner Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen).


I once recited this passage for an assignment in an acting class. Naturally, I just couldn’t match Sarsgaard’s precisely controlled intensity:

“Caitlin, when this thing blows, there isn't even gonna be a magazine anymore. If you wanna make this about Mike, make it about Mike, I don't give sh*t. You can resent me, you can hate me, but come Monday morning, we're all gonna have to answer for what we let happen here. We're all gonna have an apology to make. Jesus Christ, don't you have any idea how much sh*t we're about to eat?!? Every competitor we ever took a shot at, they're gonna pounce, and they should. Because we blew it, Caitlin. He handed us fiction after fiction, and we printed them all as fact. Just because we found him...entertaining. It's indefensible. Don't you know that?”

This speech comes just after a heated verbal volley between Chuck and Caitlin, beginning, of course, with Chuck’s cathartic eruption of, “I fired him!” and ending with a dig from Caitlin regarding the cuddly editor Chuck replaced (that would be “Mike”). Just one scene ago, Chuck was upstairs, leafing through back issues and scrutinizing Glass's phony articles, in a sequence briskly edited by Jeffrey Ford. It's the revelation Chuck needed to get people on his side, including the audience. Our patience with Stephen dwindles scene by scene, but before that point, we, too, are bewitched by him (despite all his sniveling). Though it requires some trust on the part of the viewer (it's not like Chuck's looking at concrete evidence), that confirmation of what Chuck already knew affords him a long-awaited release, and the chance to show he's really not the bad guy after all. As he drills some sense into Caitlin, our allegiances are definitively shifted.


Shattered misconceptions
I've been rooting for Sarsgaard ever since this performance, which did nab him a Golden Globe nod and recognition from the Indie Spirits, the NSFC, the OFCS and critics' groups in Boston, DC, Chicago, Kansas City, Toronto and San Francisco. I've been waiting patiently for him to once again be part of the awards season discussion (come on, Green Lantern!).

You might say this little Shattered monologue served as the crux of my devotion. Chuck won me over in the movie; Sarsgaard won me over for good. You?

17 comments:

Squish said...

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Murtada said...

Love love love this movie and performance. I remember clearly thinking who is this guy playing Chuck Lane when I watched for the first tme. Clearly he didn't register with me before that. But since then it's been love and primarily because of Shattered Glass. He should've won for this performance. Still my fave of his although I quite liked his charming perv in "An education" last year.

Mirko said...

Sarsgaard's performance in the movie was outstanding...in these years I have continually says he has been robbed of an oscar nomination...and I still think about it

Volvagia said...

Heya Squish. I used to think you were a jerk. Now I know, with this SPAM. Save these sorts of things for an OPEN COMMENT.

Devin D said...

2003: The year Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Bettany were both snubbed.

Simon said...

Why does he look so much like Paul Rudd in this movie, dammit?

Michael C. said...

GREAT choice of monologues. I remember thinking during my first viewing of this, "What was all the fuss about Sarsgaard. He's good and all but what's so special?" Then this scene came along, and wow. Made me appreciate what he was doing throughout the whole film. Love the performance love the movie.

Colleen said...

I LOVE this movie, and Peter Sarsgaard is amazing in it. One of the worst Oscar snubs of the decade, for me.

sp said...

Peter does look like Paul Rudd in that movie. I used to have a big crush on Mr. Sarsgaard, but after his marriage - he seems to have lost his looks & sex appeal.

He definitely deserved an Oscar nomination for that breakthrough performance. I miss his risk-taking and edgy films roles (Boys Don't Cry, Kinsey, & Dead Man Walking) . Sarsgaard doesn't shine in commercial films with customary characters ( Orphan & Knight and Day)

P.S. Peter's childhood hero is John Malkovich and he talks and sounds like Mr. Malkovich.

Volvagia said...

Love the performance. LIKE the movie. It's just a "Movie of the Week" to be frank. Well performed (Sarsgaard especially, but Zahn is also very good), but ultimately a fairly rote film. C+.

April said...

This was an epic performance and very memorable. It's intense.

Anonymous said...

Peter Sarsgaard was not only robbed of an Oscar nomination, he should have won it.

Eddie

jjablonicky12 said...

I really admire Sarsgaard´s filmography, i think he is truly magnetic and I do agree he reminds me of Malkovich but I truly started paying attention to him in Shattered Glass which I agree he stole the whole movie even from the excellent Sevigny, I have enjoyed many of his performance though my top Sarsgaard performance would be:#5 Being in The Dying Gaul which I really did not care for but has some great moments when he shares the screen with Clarkson #4 would be his Clyde Martin in Kinsey #3 would do to this particular performance which I discussed above #2 goes to his chilling/hateful performance in Boys Dont Cry which was so memorable and my number #1 spot I would give it to his David in last year´s An Education which I thought he should have been there in the supporting category. His chemistry with Mulligan is amazing

Owen said...

Love love LOVE this performance. I watch this movie over and over and it's largely because of Sarsgaard. I can't wait for him to have another role of this caliber.

Janice said...

//my number #1 spot I would give it to his David in last year´s An Education which I thought he should have been there in the supporting category. His chemistry with Mulligan is amazing//

Agreed. It rather reminded me of the Kidman/McGregor (moulin rouge) / Halle Berry/Thornton (Monsters Ball) situation - the lady gets all the awards love, the gentleman gets little or no awards traction , but the one performance clearly could not exist without the other. That's not to say Mulligan could not have done a fine job with another actor, but for the movie to work I have to understand why her character would fall for him; the audience has to fall for him at least a little bit, too.

Admit I haven't seen Shattered Glass, but will add it to my list now.

Volvagia said...

The Sarsgaard role in An Education seems like a Leading Role actually. And pretty baldly so, which is why he couldn't get any traction again (everybody wants him to get a supporting nom, not a lead nom.)

Matt S said...

He doesn't look anything like Paul Rudd. You people are crazy.