Sunday, January 17, 2010

Supporting Actress Blogathon:
Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air

There were many supporting women I admired this year, and I really wanted to write on someone original. I've actually seen a good bit of cinema for once, and could've come up with someone really unexpected if I'd tried.

I thought of reaching back to the beginning with Sunshine Cleaning's gloriously deadpan Emily Blunt, or going for one of the Whip It girls (Marcia Gay being my favorite). I thought of Meryl Streep's "foxy woman", Charlize Theron's Road woman (where did she come from??), and even the girls of Zombieland (those would be Abby Breslin and the no-name who plays her teenage sister, a character who it seems was meant for Lindsay Lohan before she found herself uninsurable). I've become enamored of Zöe Saldaña as of late ($2 billion sci-fi double feature!). Julianne Moore's famous Single Man cackle alone merits a write-up. And god knows Mo'Nique is worthy of praise.

But no matter how hard I tried to muster up words for someone else, I kept coming back to Vera. Vera, Vera, Vera... beautiful name. I fell hard for this one during Up in the Air. Isn't it lovely when you have all these preconceived notions of an actor, and out of nowhere, she just takes 'em down like Jake Sully did to that bomber plane? Like Meryl Streep's been doing for decades? Well, Meryl, watch out.

I'd previously pegged Vera as "the new Cate Blanchett" after seeing her in The Departed and Breaking and Entering, in which she portrayed a generic girlfriend and a Slavic whore, respectively. Clearly, she had no lack of range. But I'd seen no hint of the kind of movie star fire, mystery, effortless charm and sex appeal she displays here. And I mean that in the best way. To be blindsided by movie star charisma in an already-known-to-be-technically-brilliant actress is a glorious thing. And if it's all in the service of a role that's basically an "everywoman"? Not a queen, rock star, drug addict, Na'Vi princess, hooker, or glamazon? Wow.

I'm now inclined to anoint Vera "the next Meryl Streep" (no offense to Cate, who has her own strengths); they both have a beautiful looseness and effortlessness at their best which, while perhaps rooted in technique, looks like anything but. Not only could Vera be a Sophie, I think she could be a Karen Silkwood, a Susan Orlean, a Clarissa Vaughan, or dare I say it, an Alex Goran. She can find the extraordinary in the most seemingly ordinary of people, and make a simple close-up feel like heaven.

There's one close-up in particular that I mean. I believe it was the last time Ryan saw Alex before the infamous ending. The twinkle in her eye, the confident smile, the turn of the head - all pure bliss.


Anonymous Daniella said...

Vera in my opinion lacks the range. I feel she's trying too hard, it doesn't feel natural like I feel with a Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett performance so I disagree, but it's nice to see her experimenting with various roles.

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Blogger RC said...

Interestng thoughts waffling between Cate & Meryl....when we've yet to see if she will be as strong as either.

I'm hopeful though. I would certainly love for her to have the opportunity to impress us some more and the Oscar nod only puts her more in the spotlight.

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