Friday, 16 April 2010


I'm never quite sure what's the issue people have with Madonna, but I'm always  a bit naive like that. I know that there's no coincidence in the fact that Madonna's two good performances on the screen both revolved around a singing starlet of some sort, but looking at it from this angle belies the talent that she has - yes, talent. I'll admit I'm a big fan of the lady in all her androgynous/controversial/over-exaggerated appeal. 1996 was a good year in film, and its Best Actress lineup stands up as one of the best of the decade. Still, I say it without guilt Madonna deserved  a spot in the lineup. Evita is essentially a showcase for Madonna, but there's a moment in "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" when she bats her eyes at Jonathan Pryce in that way that only she knows how, and I'm convinced that this woman is amazing.
The biggest story about Evita is the one about Madonna stealing the song "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" for herself. It always amuses because it's one of the wisest decisions the films makes. I can only imagine what a fearsome thing to behold Patti Lupone's Evita must have been, but Madonna has a natural sense for softeness juxtaposed with harshness that makes her Eva Peron a much more believable woman - and dare I say sympathetic. Madonna is glamour epitomised, but I'm always willing to believe in the cadence of her earlier self in numbers like "Buenos Aires". Madonna (the star) has adopted England as her second home, and I don't doubt that she could understand just a little about Eva's perilous journey. 
Antonio Banderas sizzles opposite her as Che giving a ferocious performance. He is forever on the sidelines, but always scintillating. I always wish that they had more screen time together, since nothing in the film is as smouldering as "Waltz For Eva & Che". Why is it that Penny Rose's excellent costumes were snubbed? Her work was in the Guinnes Book of World Records, damn it. I'd have even given Parker a nod for his direction. He turns this sung through musical into a thoroughly cinematic experience...what happened to his career since? You're probably wondering who I'd leave out to put in Madonna, and ironically it would be Frances McDormand. I have no issues with the affable Ms. McDormand, but I feel nothing for Fargo or her in it. It's all blood under the bridge however.
True, the film does falter as it reaches the final third - but that's more the fault of the source material. When Madonna sings "You Must Love Me" as we near the end of Eva's journey I wonder how any one can doubt the authenticity of her performance. God knows, I do love her.


Simon said...

See, I would agree with you, but I just can't stand anything Madonna.

RC said...

I enjoyed this film when I saw in the theaters - i think more than Madonna's performance is the memory of her wearing like a 25 different outfits per song.

I think there were portions that were more music video then acting - which might have been where the disconnect in the awards scene was.

Runs Like A Gay said...

One of the strongest musical performances I've ever seen.

How anyone can hold a dry eye during You must Love me is beyond my understanding.

TomS said...

It does seem odd that Madonna missed an Oscar nod after winning a Golden Globe.

I, too, liked Madonna here. It is interesting to speculate what voters were thinking and feeling then.

I understand that Meryl Streep was originally cast to star in the film. I was unaware she sang until I saw her in "Ironweed,", and her "fantasy number" took my breath away. Apparently, the studios thought Madonna was more bankable. Maybe the Academy still didn't take her seriously as an actress.

And then, you had those who hated the film as compared to the stage show (lots of film musicals fall victim to that...!)

Jose said...

Madonna is a force of nature in this! Whoever complains that she has a very limited range look at how the Academy handed out 2 Oscars to Hilary Swank for playing guys with feelings.
I don't blame her but I say if you're good at something why not stick to it?
Madge's combination of star charisma, delicacy and bitchiness are what have kept her at the top of the business for decades.
Evita is her greatest achievement.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon for shame.

rc i'm with you on the MANY costume changes. at least the could have nominated that part.

runs like a gay "you must love me" is just depressing.

tom s it's even more odd that she beat out the future oscar winner at the globes and went on to no nomination. honestly, i wouldn't have liked to see meryl or even my beloved pfeiffer (another hopeful) playing the role.

jose it's really an excellent marriage of role and character, and we come out still feeling for eva which is something i don't think many could have achieved.