This post is part of StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon. Head over and feast on the posts.
Woody Allen is one of the more prolific directors of his age. He churns out, more or less, one movie per year. When it comes to quality…that’s another story. Whatever Works was not quite the hit that Vicky Cristina Barcelona was last year, and I suppose coming off that Whatever Work would seem a bit like a flop. Still, every performance or film can't be the best and Whatever Works features a good performance from a fine actress.
Patricia Clarkson as Marietta
The film has some issues, but it’s a pity that Patricia Clarkson’s performance was shrouded by the lukewarm response of the film. The supporting actress race seems all but wrapped up – a couple Weinstein girls, maybe, couple from Up In the Air, a not so Precious one and probably Julianne Moore. Whatever. They’re fine, but the argument can be made that Patricia [like so many of the women I covered] could warrant a spot in the top 5.
As I’ve said before, Patricia’s role in Whatever Work’s is akin to the Marie Elena and Nola Rice role from Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point. It’s the supporting performance that lends an “it” factor to the movie and a talented thespian like Patricia can probably play such a role easily. Luckily, she decides not to phone it in and gives an incredibly funny, yet endearing performance as Marietta. She plays the mother to our quasi-Heroine Melody [Evan Rachel Wood] and like Marie Elena bursts into the film somewhere at the half point, with her country accent in toe. It’s a stark contrast to Clarkson’s more popular works, and at first glance it seems as if she’s playing it a bit too much. But in my naiveté [probably what it is] I like to think that Patricia Clarkson is a better actress than that.
You’d notice how her accent simmers along with her clothes and attitudes as the film progresses? It’s not just the fact that she’s in New York eradicating her accent. This woman has spent her entire life putting on a show; a perpetual life of dress-up. She’s comfortable, and it’s what she likes so – as clichéd as it sounds – she begins to find her true self in New York and becomes less pretentious and more, dare I say it, bohemian. Classic Woody. It’s a bit of a hypocrisy that no one is noticing this performance. It’s highly possible that I’m seeing this whole thing through rose-tinted spectacles, and it’s true it’s not as good as some other Woody roles and it probably is not THE best performance of the year, supporting or otherwise. But we’re constantly bemoaning the lack of good roles for older women and Patty Clarkson comes along and knocks one out of the park and what happens with it? Absolutely nothing. Oh well, whatever works.