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