Nicole Kidman : the false grandiosity
My friends are going to crucify me over this article since for most of them Nicole Kidman is the incarnation of perfection,the most beautiful and talented actress on the planet.I have spent many dinners quarrelling about her talent but I must say I was overpowered.For a reason inconceivable for me,some people simply adore her and I never even liked her.
I saw her first in "Dead calm",24 years ago.I liked her looks but didn't even give her a second thought. She was a pretty girl,with wonderful hair and skin and that was all for me.When she continued to appear in blockbusters with her boyfriend and then husband Tom Cruise I wondered what was it that people loved so much about her and presumed it was her physique.
I never expected she would become an icon or that she would have any pretensions for serious roles.And how wrong was I.My first big irritation was her becoming Isabel Archer in "The portrait of a Lady".It is one of my cherished books and I am a big fan of John Malkovich who was perfect for the part.
And then Nicole as Isabel,no no and no. Only her looks were right but nothing else.She was artificial,without any charisma or fire,and completely overshadowed by Malkovich.
From then on,there is one word that describes Nicole Kidman for me in every role she played and it is AFFECTATION.
I never believed anything her characters had to say,I only believed her physique,especially in costume dramas which is the worst thing that could happen to an eager actress.
And yet,in spite of my continuous amazement,she managed to star in many interesting movies,she managed to get an Oscar and she became a true superstar.Was it Tom Cruise loving care,was it her looks,was it a cosmic joke,I don't know but till this day I feel sorry for all the great actresses around the world who could have had some of the challenging roles Kidman managed to ruin.
To be fair,the Oscar she got for "The Hours" wasn't completely undeserved.It was the only time in her career that she seemed to put some soul into a character,and the physical transformation was definitely the key to her success.
In spite of my continuous strong dislike of her,I must give her credit for the perseverance and for good instincts in choosing her roles. Her appetites are big and she is obviously relentless in her ambition.To bad that so many potentially good movies and excellent partners were damaged by her lack of talent and selfish interpretations like poor Hugh Jackman in the epic disaster "Australia".
Her career is an irritating enigma for me but I know when I am defeated by the facts so I can expect to see her steal many more compelling roles from the truly talented actresses. I rest my case.
Penelope Cruz: lost in translation
Penelope Cruz is an interesting Hollywood faux pas.Unlike Kidman,she is a really good actress,passionate,convincing,inspiring and sincere.But only in her Spanish roles.Whenever she tried to act in English it was surprisingly awful.So I guess we could say she got lost in translation.
Her Spanish career is dreamy.She got to work with legendary directors like Bigas Luna and Pedro Almodovar and with great partners like Javier Bardem,Blanca Portillo or Carmen Maura.The movies she made with Almodovar have become history,he is one of the most original directors of our time and Cruz was his muse.And she gave back all the effort he put into her.
She is simply irresistible in her portrayal of those heavily burdened women Almodovar gives us.She is flawless,everything she does is in complete function of his ideas and yet she manages to create a passionate universe of her own.I can't decide which one of her Spanish roles I like best but definitely "Volver" was the movie that should have won her the Oscar.
Instead,she got it for the mess of a movie, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", the worst movie my favourite director Woody Allen ever made.It was a stupid compromise.Each and every movie she did in English was disastrous.All the qualities that make her great in her native language,ruin her in Hollywood roles.
She is fierce and passionate,a true Mediterranean woman but somehow when she puts that passion against Matt Damon,Ben Kingsley or Johnny Depp,it gets completely wrong.They seem overwhelmed by her and she seems...well,as I said,lost in translation.
Fortunately,she obviously understood her problem with Hollywood and decided to continue her brilliant career in Spain and Europe.Good for her.
Kate Winslet : the overachiever
Oh Kate, Kate, I don't even know where to start.I genuinely like her,she seems nice and normal and funny,her enthusiasm is endearing,she is vivacious and ballsy but she is simply an overachiever.
She had a remarkable debut in a masterpiece directed by Peter Jackson,"Heavenly creatures".It is a really dark movie and Winslet nailed it,she was a perfect sociopath.I had great hopes for her and then came the predictable English must-do,Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" and less predictable "Jude" with a really interesting director Michael Winterbottom.She was ok I guess,what she didn't have in originality and depth,she made up with spunk.But it was already far from the hopes she gave in Jackson's movie.
The "Titanic" was her path to stardom. Her Rose was not bad, but she looked like his Jack's aunt.Anyway,it was a massive hit and made them both most coveted young stars on the planet.She managed to continue with smartly chosen roles,just right for the span of her talent,interesting but not to demanding until she began to be over ambitious.
In some of the movies she made I couldn't help but imagine other actresses,with more profundity and more nuances,like in "Little Children" or even more in her Oscar rewarded role,"The Reader". That movie showed all her strengths but also put all her flaws in full light.She is like a really good student,she learns everything by hearth but simply lacks imagination and originality.She is precise but she is painfully one dimensional.
In "Mildred Pierce", she was once again generously cast as lead but paired with two people who are her complete opposites and they stole every scene they had together.Guy Pearce and Evan Rachel Wood have imagination and charisma and Kate tried to beat them with what she had,brains and skill.In acting,it is simply not good enough.
She will certainly continue with her ambitious path and I will probably continue to cast a perfect replacement for her in my mind.