Sunday, 14 March 2010

Performances of the Decade (Male)

I suppose it get’s a bit monotonous when a particular film keeps showing up on this list, but I can’t help it if some films just have good casts. The thing is, it’s strange, because I’m not even a fan of Clint Eastwood. His technique and oftentimes maudlin storylines always annoy me, but Mystic River is just a film that impresses me on all counts. It’s also important because without it, this brilliant man would have gone Oscar-less.
#7 Tim Robbins in Mystic River (2003)
 In some ways Tim’s performance reminds me of Helen Mirren’s turn in Gosford Park. It’s not that his performance depends on subtlety, as quiet a man as Dave is Mystic River demands a large amount of physical acting. The thing that ties the two together is that both performances demand a certain secretiveness. Both Dave and Mrs. Wilson play their roles knowing something that the other characters don’t. We can assume, but we’re never absolutely certain just what happened to Young Dave when he was kidnapped; and more importantly he’s the only one that knows why he came home bloody on that fateful night. It’s not until after I’ve gotten all the facts that I fully appreciate how outstanding a performance Tim Robbins.
For example, I take notice of the interrogation scene played brilliantly by Laurence Fishburne (the guy needs a proper role) and Kevin Bacon. Of course the film has us guessing towards the end, but we can now account for the look of fear and simultaneous honesty in Dave. He is after all innocent of that particular crime. If Dave is really guilty of anything though, it’s the obvious. He’s been so traumatised by his own demons he doesn’t know how to communicate with those around him. Sure, his marriage to Celeste is not a horrible one, but there remains that slight but somewhat impenetrable divide between the two. Obviously, he doesn’t know just how communicate this and it’s ultimate the reason for his demise.
…And what a demise. Mystic River is one traumatic moment after another and it’s at something of a peak during the killing of Dave. Sean Penn is all beastlike as he tries to discover the truth and it’s disconcerting to watch Dave as he realises that he’s the prey. Tim needs to reach deep and make those final moments of Dave as distressing as possible because if there’s any fault in Mystic River it is that the characters are more external than internal. But Tim doesn’t act from the inside out. Why does he give the wrong confession to Jim? Does he really expect Jim to let him go? Watch him closely and you can almost pinpoint the moment where he gives up, and it’s horrible to watch. But no one said Mystic River was an easy film.
I said that Marcia gives my favourite of the film, but Tim is exceptional giving a well deserved Oscar winning performance. Do you agree or were your rooting for someone else in 2003?


joe burns said...

I thought he was fine, but I didn't go WOW for him. The only other nominee who I saw was Hounsou and I didn't like him at all, so Robins is my pick as of now.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

Sean Penn got all the glory, but Tim Robbins, quite honestly, is the one who gave the performance in this film that just plain HAUNTED ME for weeks.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

joe i thought honsou was fine.

m. carter tim robbins does haunt you. such brilliant work.