Monday, April 27, 2009

April Showers, Glenn Close

April Showers evenings @ 11

I was too young to understand or appreciate the rise of Glenn Close in the early 80s but by the time the one/two punch of Fatal Attraction / Dangerous Liaisons hit in 87/88 she was knocking me out. She was already a star by then, though. Those fourth and fifth Oscar nominations (and who knew they would be her last?) only amplified her celebrity. Critics and Oscar voters had been devoted since her feature debut in The World According to Garp (1982).

The murderous climax to Fatal Attraction wasn't the first time a Close movie scored big with a tub/shower sequence and it wasn't the first time she starred in a Best Picture nominee either. The Big Chill (1983) brought her her second supporting actress nod and some people believe her nude shower scene sealed that honor.

We're not far into this reunion film when it happens. The film has had a surprisingly light mood despite its kick off funereal plot point (Kevin Costner is the dead man, though he was left on the cutting room floor). Suddenly Close kills the laughter but amplifies the movie's dramatic undercurrents. There's no warning.

Directly on the heels of a light scene the camera pans very slowly through her bedroom (we don't understand what's happening at first) until we reach Glenn racked with sobs in the shower.

As The Big Chill's "Sarah" she's arguable at her warmest if still a little cool and guarded. That's why this sudden but tellingly private display of vulnerability works. Ah! So she does feel after all. Close performs this same rug-pulling stab of pain in even more devastating fashion for the finale of Dangerous Liaisons five years later. But after her 80s heyday, that sudden reveal of the three dimensional woman behind the icy mask became as rare as Yeti sightings. Close's screen persona hasn't altered that much over the years but it has hardened.

What would Sarah Cooper make of Patty Hewes?

She has no trouble commanding the small screen on Damages but even in those moments when her character "Patty Hewes" appears to be vulnerable, tears welling up furiously in her eyes, one still can't trust her. Close was always expert at showing us the mask. Now, when she lets it slip, aren't we only seeing another mask just underneath?


Wayne B. said...

Close is another actress whose work I've hardly seen. (Have never seen any of her five nominated performances, not even Fatal Attraction!) Her comedic work in the Dalmations movies, Cookie's Fortune and Stepford Wives I have seen. She's easily the best thing going in all four of those flicks. (oops! except Julianne Moore, she's killer in that jailcell scene)

Sam Brooks said...

That final scene in Dangerous Liaisons kills me every time. I have no idea how Glenn Close lost on what would have been an easily deserved make-up win.

(And I love her overplayed fit in the previous scene; pitch-perfect and it resonates so deeply.)

jc valencia said...

this may sound like blasphemy now but when i first heard that they were planning of adapting prada,i thought glenn would be perfect as miranda priestly.

dont get me wrong. i love meryl's performance as runway's top honcho but glenn's portrayal could have been as interesting

Anonymous said...

Glenn is overrated... Even when she's playing warm and loving (World According to Garp) it feels clinical and studied.... Foster definitely had stronger work in '88 with "The Accused" though "Fatal Attraction" really is one of the best female performances of the 80's hands down in the strongest Best Actress year of all time in my opinion.

- Sean C.


Sean C... i so disagree. I think Liaisons is Close's finest hour (with only Sarandon's Bull Durham performance rivalling it) ...and I wouldn't have even nominated Foster

very strong year, 1988.

mrripley said...

nice to see a tribute to an actress who was overlooked for oscar plus for a 1990 nom for reversal of fortune i can see her now banging the couch,i was a cher man in 87 but it was glenn all the way in 88 so pissed jodie won cos she got hers in 91 too and glenn nothing,she did not deserve her nod in 84 for the natural though.

mrripley said...

1988 was a rich year

my 5

i never got the sarandon hooplah at all.

Andrew K. said...

Close is my favourite living actress. I know Oscars are about performances and not actresses, but have you seen the people she lost to? Cher... Linda Hunt...? Where the hell are they now? I mean Jodie Foster is good. But she has two Oscars and people like Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver and Gena Rowlands have NONE. Oh, the pain. Anyways, I digress. I love The Big Chill... my favourite of the year actually...

Will said...

Great actress, one of my favorite. She should've won for Dangerous Liaisons. I have no idea what they were thinking in the 80's. If you look at her awards section you will see that was never a front runner:
5 Oscar nominations
1 BAFTA nomination for Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Only 3 Golden Globes nominations, two of which for comedy.
I think Close will win an Oscar eventually, like Geraldine Page and Shirley MacLaine, if not, she'll get an Honorary Oscar 10-20 years from now, like Deborah Kerr and Barbara Stanwyck, though you'll never know and Mrs. Close may also ended up like Irene Dunne. Plus her new movie project looks very interesting and she still has a couple of years to make Sunset Boulevard.

Hayden said...

I don't think that's an entirely fair assessment of Close's capabilities as an actress. I know you aren't an enormous Glenn Close fan, Nathaniel, but it's as if you're implying she's a two dimensional actress with one trick.

Like the time you refused to put her on your "top 10 most overdue" list because she "stopped trying."

I don't think "trying" to win an Oscar makes you any more or less overdue. When I think of someone who's "given up" I think of someone like Debra Winger who has, quite literally, given up. Or Diane Keaton, who doesn't seem to be seeking out quality roles in ANY medium anymore. Glenn Close is a dedicated actress who has gravitated toward quality roles through her entire career, and I think it's really narrow-minded and dismissive to say she's stopped trying because there's so much interesting material for women her age (who are NOT Meryl Streep) on TV nowadays.

This post just reminded me of that comment...and because you're typically so sympathetic towards the plight of actresses over 45 I assumed it was just some issue you had with Glenn Close, and I guess I was right.

John C. said...

I remember I read somewhere that the reason Close was not nominated for Reversal of Fortune was that some voters considered her performance as lead and others as supporting and that split the votes.
I guess will never know.

Anonymous said...

I think Close's warmest performance is in Nine Lives.

Faina said...

She was heartbreaking in Nine Lives. And has no one seen The Safety of Objects? Absolutely amazing.

Anonymous said...

She also rocked in Heights or something like that. LOVE Glenn!

Lee said...

Glenn Close is amazing. I found footage of the young actress while making a documentary on Up With People. She doesn't like to admit it, but this is where her acting and singing career began. She even wrote music for the smiley singing group and dons the cover of Up With People albums. Archival footage of Glenn Close is included in the film: SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS, which is just now hitting the festival circuit.