Thursday, April 21, 2011
Best Actress 1984: Jessica Lange in Country
Jessica Lange received her third Oscar nomination for playing Jewell Ivy, a a woman who is struggling to keep her farm from foreclosure and to hold her family together (Yes, the third one in this category) in Country.
Country is actually surprisingly good. It might be something you've seen before, but it's well made and well-written for the most part and the acting is pretty good. I'd say it's worth seeing. But it's Jessica Lange we're talking about here and she does do a good job in the part. Country and the role of Jewell Ivy is very similar to The River and Sissy Spacek's role, but Jessica Lange's acting skills and the fact that Country is a much better movie help Jessica elevate the roles into something pretty good. In the beginning, the character of Jewell is pretty two-dimensional, simply a woman who seems to live for her husband, her kids, and her family, but Lange plays it so well she seems to override the fact that her part is underwritten. She has a certain radiance to her that sparks up the movie, and it's really her that's doing the lifting here, which leads me to a problem. Sam Shepard is very mediocre, and neither actors have much presence or chemistry on screen together, but I don't blame Jessica to much, because at least she put in an effort to make they're scenes work. Another problem is that her big scenes are played a little melodramatic and fake.
But during the 2nd half of the film, Jewell's character gets some development and here's where Lange really succeeds, making us feel her struggles and carrying her scenes with strength and dignity. If only the film story had been a little more exciting or interesting the performance would have been great all the way through. But still, Jessica Lange delivers a strong, competent performance that could have been flat and boring and is able to standout in a flawed, but very good film. She gets