Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Awesome-ness of Tilda Swinton


I'm late in this conversation I'm well aware, just to preface. I saw an extraordinary piece of acting from this last year in a teeny-tiny film entitled Julia. In it, the incomparable Tilda Swinton, she the saucer angel of acting, or demon, or both, plays Julia Harris, and blowzy, alcoholic mess of a woman who, out of desperation and I don't know, perhaps even boredom, kidnaps a child in an attempt to get rich. As her plan (all made up on of the spur of moment) backfires and becomes increasingly ridiculous, she eventually ends up in Mexico in another kidnapping attempt on the same child. The story itself is sort of rip off of Cassavettes, but all that doesn't matter, because Julia is held together, some times on the skin of it's teeth, by Swinton who throws just about everything into this performance. When she utters the line:

"And it's time my luck changed. And it's time something went right for me!"

On the page it might sound like a customary line of self-entitlement and seeking redemption, with Julia it's a cry for mercy, and a battle cry all at once. It's predatory and pathetic. Swinton has the bravery to make her character unattractive and unlikable, without making her disposable. Her dailty routines of waking up hung over in strange men's apartments and clubbing it up at night the next day. Swinton makes it all real. My favorite line of dialogue is one such bar adventure, when a suitor asks what she does for a living. Her response, "I make dreams come true." And the dream world is probably where Julia lives.

I write of this after tonight's SAG ceremony where Ms. Sandra Bullock was the winner, and well to point out that perhaps the best actress race looks a tad drab, boring, unspectacular. The unfortunate thing that wouldn't be the case if Tilda Swinton were up there getting awards. Sadly, only the brave souls of the Online Film Critics Society even had the courage to nominate such a bold and provocative performance. I'm not blaming the individuals bodies and guilds for not acknowledging the best female leading performance of the year, especially since it's admittably a hard sell. But you can't complain about a weak year for leading ladies when the best one keeps getting ignored. Sorry Sandra, Julia could eat you for breakfast.

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