Saturday, 10 April 2010

Forgotten Characters 2:6

Does anyone remember Diane Keaton when they think of The Godfather? I do; but I’m a big fan of hers., so it's probably just my nepotism. It’s sort of an occupational hazard for all the women in the movie even the good Talia Shire. The Godfather is a male dominated film, and it’s not difficult for the women to get supplanted from your memory. The same thing happened a few years back in 2006, even though I recall this role always with affection, I think many have forgotten in.
Vera Farmiga in The Departed
As Madolyn
Sometimes I wonder why it is that I like Vera Farmiga so much.- I have not seen her in much. Sure, she’s completely charismatic in interviews and such, but so are a number of actors that I don’t care for. I always remember Vera’s performance in The Departed with fondness. We first meet her with Colin the elevator. We sense her professionalism, but we don’t get much because it’s not until our second meeting with this woman that we really get to know her. We notice how she thinks in offhand statements, like on her date with Sullivan when he says. “You also do probation work, right? The bad guys.” I love Vera’s response, of “Not necessarily.” It’s not really that much ostensibly, but Madolyn is defined by her ethics. It’s like she says, “Sometimes, I want people to just forget about their personal bullshit and do their jobs.” It’s a bit ironic though when we take into account her subsequent meeting with Costigan. It’s easy for the audience to realise just how disconcerting it is for her to be flummoxed by a patient and as DiCaprio storms through the scene, Vera’s reaction is excellent. She’s reticent, but never overshadowed.
Of course Madolyn’s story, like the other characters, is capsized as the film continues. The call from Costello is obviously jarring to her. She’s smart, even smarter than we realise and as she observes Colin in the phone she knows things are more amiss than she’s letting on. The Departed never cares to condescend to giving the audience back stories, so we have to piece it together based on the excellence of the actors. Vera sells Madolyn’s attraction to Billy, though we see little of how it grew. It’s never tawdry (and not just because Costigan’s a “good guy”). She doesn’t get much leverage to end the relationship with Billy since it’s played out in just a short scene, but it always reminds me of the end of another extramarital affair. As the plot winds down she is given less to do, but I love when she finds out about Colin’s injudiciousness. Vera is good with her face and just her look of daggers to Colin is excellent. Our final shot of her is her look of anger at Colin. Sure The Departed doesn’t revolve around her, but Vera helps it to be brilliant.
What did you think of Vera in The Departed? Excellent, or overshadowed by the males? 


Caz - Lets Go To The Movie said...

Great choice of forgotten a character as I totally forgot that it was Vera Farmiga in that role. Until I went to see "Up in the Air" and done the usual IMDb search after seeing the film and was like oooo right so it was "The Departed" I recognised her from.

Dreher Bear (...Where The Buffalo Roam) said...

This was my first time watching Vera and while her part was overshadowed by the other performances, she did a tremendous job!

Simon said...

I don't know why, but when I saw this, I was under the impression that Farmiga was British. Therefore, I was busy being impressed by her excellent American accent to notice much else.

Danny King said...

Love this pick!

I, for one, will never forget her role in this film, but I'm sure it is unjustly overlooked by many, mostly because of the male dominance you discuss.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon ha ha. incidentally, kate winslet was attached to this film at some point...

danny glad you're a fan.

The Floating Red Couch said...

Personally, Vera was my least fave part of _The Departed_. She's fine as an actress, cute, bubbly, emotive, but I thought her character was vapid and clueless. Just not very insightful as a psychiatrist and sort of self-centered (every conversation she had was about herself) --

That could be fine, if I didn't feel that she was being spotlighted as this great heroine. It's almost as if her character arc was to realize that this whole time she'd been an idiot: if that's the case, how'd she ever get through med school?