Monday, March 26, 2007
Nancy D. Recommends: Rebecca Pidgeon
I was stopped short by the recent criticism of Rebecca Pidgeon in the comments below. I think she's terrific, and her performances are one of the things I most look forward to in David Mamet movies. Her screen presence can be opaque, it's true. But her reserved and sometimes icy demeanor meld wonderfully with the Mamet aesthetic. She is a top-notch interpreter of Mamet's language, giving the sense that every word that spills out of her mouth adds something new in the world of the film. I do vaguely remember that in State and Main she had some silly girl-next-door part that didn't really fit. But one viewing of The Winslow Boy should convince you of her delicious way of attacking female roles that is unlike almost any other actress. She acts by holding to the center, keeping herself on a ramrod-straight, almost completely unwavering, even emotional keel, so that when she sways the slightest bit, the audience eats it up. A slight change of facial expression at the end is all that is needed to introduce the possibility of romance, though the movie ends without a kiss. A sigh toward the second half of the movie suggests the fatigue of months lived under pressure. She can reposition her scarf and convey everything there is to say about British economy and her family's sense of appropriateness.
But most of all, she pulls off the trick of acting as a woman while avoiding the conventions of acting as a woman. She's tough, and there's never a moment where she lets down that toughness. As I said before, she's delicious.