I like complex characters, the ones whose vulnerability and emotional palette transpire visually in adamant or volatile decisions. I am not fascinated by the damage that frequent struggle inflicts during climax inside the beings that endure it or the ones around them, but by the bizzare pertinacity of the respective humans. The cathartic salvation they seek in a way or another, regardless of the fact that it might signify precisely their perdition. Based on these premises, I have compiled the following top five best cinematic performances.
- Isabelle Adjani in One Deadly Summer/L’Ete Meurtrier (1983)
This extremely beauteous French actress is my all time favourite, as her ability to ransack the deepest and most flexuous layers of her psyche feels unsurpassable. Her sapphirine irides, perfectly assorted with her wild chestnut curls, create an almost unassailable impression of nescient and erotic naivety at the beginning of L’ete Meurtrier. As the film progresses, the ingenious intricacy of her disturbing intentions is unreeled, and tragedy gradually satiates the atmosphere. The intriguing scene between Elle and her mother is monumental, and the denouement quite resonates with the title of this remarkable and truly unforgettable pellicle.
- Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice (1982)
She is widely renowned and highly praised for her chameleonic capacity to emulate the most diverse personages, and she totally deserves it. Meryl Streep’s non-American accent in Sophie’s Choice is above impressive, the apparent submissiveness of her behavior irreproachable, and her raw despair could not be more believable. This film deserves to be watched even solely for the contrast of sceneries, but its veritable merit does lie in the puzzle pieces Sophie unwillingly collects, the ones that eventually lead her to her double choice. A picture show that illustrates how circumstances dictate our destinies, yet above it, how we can actually hold the fortitude to select the alternative that reverberates best with our inner structure.
- Geoffrey Rush in Shine (1996)
The portrayal of shy and faltering piano prodigy David Helfgott, by the Australian actor, is impeccable. Despite the alleged inaccuracy regarding the factual relationship between the anxious and talented pianist and his peremptory (or not) father, this Oscar winning performance of descent in a cesspool of psychopathy, followed by an unexpected exaltation, is breathtaking. Nonsensical babble has never seemed funnier yet so thrillingly subtle in its scattering of simple truth’s echoes in the listener’s ear.
- Juliette Binoche in The Lovers on The Bridge/Les amants du Pont-Neuf (1991)
I have realized that I manifest a veritable penchant towards French actresses, as Juliette Binoche is yet another of my very few preferred. Her nonchalant naturalness, both physical and pathematic, is almost unparalleled in cinematography. I have noticed that she has an inclination towards depiction of masterly gifted people, and it suits her incredibly well. What could be more appalling for a graphic artist, a painter as Michèle, than losing her sight? This motion picture is about the beauty and harshness that can dwell together in carelessness, about unlikely bonds that can redeem or injure us. Homelessness on Paris’s oldest bridge, loyal yet treacherous fondness, hypnotic and erratic dancing, only a few of the intoxicating elements that pour spell in this eccentric film.
- Gwyneth Paltrow in Sylvia (2003)
Before Sylvia, I didn’t really know much about the interpreting abilities of Gwyneth Paltrow. Of course, I did watch Shakespeare in Love and Proof, but in there her performance didn’t strike me as indelibly exceptional. I should mention that Sylvia Plath is my favourite poet and I was very skeptical about her concrete embodiment in a roll. Yet, I needed to see it. And when I did, my reaction, well, it can be briefly summarized in a single word: flabbergasted. Her exuberance, her antithetical moods, her audacity, her neuroses…all packed in a slightly flawed (who could actually incarnate thoroughly Sylvia’s self-contained yet impetuous electricity?) but so palpable rendering! Maybe the actress’ impersonation was unfortunately succored by her personal grief due to the loss of her own father (the paternal figure’s demise, great nucleus around which Plath’s obsessions gravitated), I could not know. What I certainly perceive is what she inspired to me in this role, and that is my most cherished poetess’ dramatic allure.