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Thursday, June 7, 2012

On strong (and fascinating) female characters (third part)

Following up on the "Strong (and Fascinating) female characters" reviews part one and two. I have been thinking of amazing actress carrying on roles that have influenced me, and I am pretty sure many others, men and women.

Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil, El Secreto De Sus Ojos - The Secret in Their Eyes, 2010)
My first choice for this new edition is: Irene Menéndez Hastings played by the amazing Soledad Villamil in "El Secreto De Sus Ojos" by Juan José Campanella.
I always like women who are strong without leaving aside their emotions, well, I mean that they actually are not super robot on a mission but sensitive people as well. The way Campanella writes his characters is almost like there is a main action, but most of all, because they are human, they are all going through emotions, which drives them in a very powerful way, you love his characters. Irene is a judge, new-comer, with high degree which allow us to land on higher spheres right on, but learning the way to be respected for who she is, which is of a value. She is funny, smart, sensitive and sometimes borderline with the justice she has to maintain.
Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil, El Secreto De Sus Ojos by Juan José Campanella, 2010)
Miss Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility, 1995)
Then, I thought of Miss Dashwood played by Emma Thomson in "Sense and Sensibility". I am saying strong in a very relative way. I have been fascinated by this character for various reason, one being simply falling for her. That's clear, who didn't. At the same time, she is a woman who's condition is to be bored and fall for a man, and eventually get married (not necessarily to the same man), have kids and do nothing for the rest of her life bur raise them to be married. This is a condition she cannot really change because of the time (19th century) she lives in. We see her all miserable, while watching a different movie, you would see the miseries of the time, for the people who didn't have food on their plate ("Albert Nobbs"?). Anyway, the choice goes because of the steadiness she has facing what would probably be the only happiness of her time going away. The movie has a happy ending (thank god), but the performance of Emma Thomson is close to masochism, painful to watch and honorable in a way, not ready to settle for less than being herself a truly generous person, leaving her priorities behind. I am going to try not to cry now :)
Miss Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility by Ang Lee, 1995)

Leyla (Sheetal Sheth, I can't think Straight, 2008)
If you are from an Indian Muslim family, coming out to your family isn't easy. Coming out to our parents is not easy in any case, even if they are the sweetest. Definitely, her feelings are so clear she needs to communicate it. Also, she feels there is something about her life missing if she cannot share what is becoming so important in her life with her parents and surrounding. But still, she belongs to a society where first, it is considered a sin, second, the community is tight and you can be totally rejected from it and finally of course, what if her parents do not accept her any longer. Anyway, she goes all the way, even influences another into telling her parents, she is true and beautiful, strong in her personal belief and persuasive in making people change. It is important. And the character is based on a true story of the director of the film, even better.
Leyla (Sheetal Sheth, I Can't Think Straight by Shamim Sarif, 2008)

Catherine Banning (Rene Russo, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1999)
Femme fatale, with brain. She is smart, likes to play and hunt down her subject (she is an insurance investigator), and this handsome man named Thomas Crown just happened to have stolen one of the painting her company insured. She has class, a sharp sense of humor, eventually some emotion which makes her look ethically good, although it wouldn't matter. Or perhaps a little but just because I am a romantic. Anyway, somebody you definitely remember.
Catherine Banning (Rene Russo, The Thomas Crown Affair by John McTiernan, 1999)

K. aka Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient, 1996)
She never got the Oscar she deserved for that role. She is amazing, taking risks at a time where women are just around to help men, be nice and presentable. She is curious, delicate, passionate, courageous facing death, it is actually a very beautiful scene, her awaiting for her death. I believe beyond her being the object of desire of the main character, she stands out as a strong woman, original and beautiful. I really love Kristin Scott Thomas is general, but she blew me away with this role. I was only 13 when I first watched this movie, I am now 28, I realize this impression of her hasn't changed one bit.
K. aka Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient by Anthony Minghella, 1996)

Manuela (Cecilia Roth, Todo Sobre Mi Madre - All About My Mother, 1999)
First, the movie is beautiful, full of humanity is many shapes and forms. It is not so much that Manuela is beautiful, more that the people who surround her are looking at her in a beautiful way, everybody loves her, carries her in her downs, and she has a lot to carry starting with the death of her unique son. The more you look at her, the more you look at how people look at her, the more you fall for this genuine generosity, devotion for her surrounding, no matter how fit they are in the society. She doesn't judge, she follows her purpose with a unique strength, without loosing at any moment her humanity.
Manuela (Cecilia Roth, Todo Sobre Mi Madre - All About My Mother by Pedro Almodovar, 1999)

Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt, As Good As Its Gets, 1999)
I am still wondering why I didn't put Twister as a role for Helen Hunt. I think because it wouldn't be fair to her acting skills, "Twister" is where I fell for Helen Hunt, but then again, I couldn't think of why I had an issue putting her in "What Women Want" either. Maybe those movie didn't get enough recognition for me to feel confident in adding her in them. Also, "A good woman" could have worked, it is a great performance of the downfall of a woman, trying to keep her head up through this degrading journey. Anyway, I guess the complexity of playing a waitress, a mum, a responsible person who can control her emotions to a certain extend and try life for herself for once, with all the complexity that these different facets - and many others - have to be coherent together.
Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt, As Good As Its Gets by James L. Brooks, 1999)

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano, Haywire, 2011)
Ok, she is really strong, and I mean physically (Gina Carano is champion of mixed martial art). She can walk on the wall to beat a guy from the shoulder down. Or just smash on him a beautiful vase found on the nearest shelve. Or simple be smashed with a bottle of Ketchup, be really upset to the point of crushing the guy that played G.I. Jo, yes ma'am! Anyway, her character is of a Marine, but she has something interesting about her, first because she not manly despite her resume, she can even play sensual, she righteous, funny, smart, a survivor and get things done.
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano, Haywire by Steven Soderbergh, 2011)


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