Sunday, April 3, 2011

Best Actress 1984: Judy Davis in A Passage To India



Judy Davis received her first Oscar nomination for playing Adela Questad, an engaged woman traveling with her future mother-in law Ms. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft) in A Passage To India.


A Passage To India is a movie that is mixed for me, on the one hand, it's beautifully made and the acting is overall great. My father is a huge fan of the novel, and he says that it's a good story, but it's really how it's written that makes the book so good. I myself haven't read the book, but I can see how that could be true. The story often lacks that special spark that can really make an engaging, absorbing movie. But it's still worth seeing. Anyway, Judy Davis plays Adela Questad, a young woman who is engaged to the city magistrate of a city in India, and is rather bored by all the stuffy, english people who are making a living/taking over the country, and is slowly starting to see how appalling the British, her own people, are to to the Indians, and is starting to realize she doesn't really love her future-husband at all. in these scenes, Davis does a terrific job of subtly developing this character. She doesn't say much, but Davis does do very well in showing a change in her character, and her scenes with the doctor Aziaz are excellent, as are her scenes with her fiancee, and with doctor Aziaz.. Her scenes with Ms. Moore though are often stealed by Ashcroft, though Davis still is able to do a good job,maybe it's because Adela is not a very showy character.

During the 2nd half though, her performance changes. She accuses the doctor of raping her in they're expedition in the caves, and she disappears from the movie for a little while, until the trial. Her scenes here are fantastic, she really gives her all to these scenes, powerfully showing her guilt and fear, and eventual shame. Her testimony in the courtroom is brilliantly executed by her. And her performance continues to be overall strong throughout the rest of the film.

But my issue here is that the role of Adela Questad is underwhelming, we've seen this character before, and although Davis is up to the part, she's never amazing except during the court scenes. And also I found Adela' character arc somewhat frustrating: Why does she disappear from the 2nd half for like 20 minutes or so? Why doesn't the movie clearly address why she accused the doctor (Spoiler Alert!)if he wasn't guilty? I think the whole 2nd half could have been much better executed. Still, Judy Davis excels with her part, and is able to give an excellent performance in the end. I give her a solid

12 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

I guess she will be your pick...but you probably already know how I feel ;)

joe burns said...

Lange and Vanessa are still left, so who knows, but it"s for sure she"ll be in the top three.

I knew you hated the film, but I recall you liked her, somewhat, I think, originally, you gave her a three? I"m looking forward when you do this year.

Louis Morgan said...

I have not watched this yet, despite being a David Lean fan, but this is commonly described as one of his weakest efforts.

joe burns said...

It"s not Lawrence Of Arabia, but it"s a good movie. It"s the 2nd half that derails it, since it does not adress the trial or the racism in a blievable way, and it feels too rushed.

Fritz said...

I really like this movie. And your grade seems just right for her.

joe burns said...

Thanks!!

dinasztie said...

Interesting. This is how I felt for the first time. She's not amazing but there's something gripping about her.

What did you think of Peggy Ashcroft?

joe burns said...

You"ll find out soon!

Fritz said...

Joe, did you get my mail?

joe burns said...

Yes, I did after reading this, check yours!

Dazzling Aura said...

I thought the movie is fine. I've seen it for 3 times in my life. My favorite part of the movie is all about Mrs. Moore. Even in her death I am still searching for her presence. Davis was fine I thought but yes, her court scene was her best moments.

joe burns said...

You'll find out what I think about Aschcroft soon!