Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Forgotten Characters 2:10

Due to a post to boost my memory compliments of Marshall my mind turned to this film recently. There’s so much about this film that’s forgotten, some of them understandable, like this performance. It wasn’t a poor one, by any means, but in an already long film it didn’t take up much time…hence its forgotten status.
Amy Ryan in Changeling
 As Carol Dxter
We meet Carol a good way in Changeling. Jolie’s Christine has been cast into a mental institution via the Police Force. Amy grabs my attention from the inception, without being too obvious. Her first words are sage, “You should eat. Eating is normal. You got to do everything you can to look normal.” Both Christine and the audience are startled by the composure coming from someone in a place like this. As she gives Christine the “inside scoop” on their situation it’s a good moment for the film, and Clint knows that. I liked Changeling quite much, but even I’ll admit it could get oppressive at times with all the information, but Clint holds back here and Ryan (along with Jolie) work well. Even in the nondescript moments like Ryan’s line reading of, “I work nights.” Jolie’s Christine is nonplussed, and then she enunciates “I work nights.” It’s some slight irony that coming from the stage (and being known for her loud – but excellent – performance in Gone Baby Gone) Amy has such a knack for subtlety. Eastwood knows she’s a gem and she gets those poignant lines, “If we’re insane, nobody has to listen to us. I mean, who are you going to believe, some crazy woman trying to destroy the force of the, or a police officer? ”
We don’t have any time to see the relationship grown between the two; perhaps it’s just their commonality that fosters that tenuous bond. Like her brave – but misguided – punch to the doctor to “save” Christine. It’s an iffy moment, story wise, but it works precisely because Amy Ryan is able to convey that this woman is at the end of the rope. There’s nowhere left to go. Her confession in the hospital room is slight but effective, “I lost…two babies…to back alley doctors…no choice…Never had the chance…to fight for them. You do. Don’t stop.” It’s moment like these that define a character that could have turned into little more than vignette. Her final moment is wordless, a newly rejuvenated Christine returns to get all the Code Twelve patients out. The silent exchange between Jolie and Ryan is a quiet tender moment and just with her eyes Amy says so much. As the saying goes, there are no small roles only small actors and Amy Ryan is definitely not a small actor – her work in Changeling is special.
Do you remember Carol Dexter of “f**k-you-and-the-horse-you-rode-in-on” fame? Or did you forget Changeling and all that comes with it?


Darren said...

Amy Ryan is one of those actresses who never really gets the credit she deserves. I'd really like her to become one of those supporting actors Hollywood keeps around for those strong supporting roles. I'd hope for more, but I kinda figure we'd be lucky to get that.

Nigel said...

Funny, I was just watching this the other day.

I'm sure everyone lauds John Malkovich's turn as Cbristine's political shield; But it was Ryan who impressed me more because she only needed a few minutes to provide Christine with emotional armour. As the story unfolds, we see her using that armour to dismiss the manipulation induced by the doctors/nurses.

I also love her reading of the line, "I work nights." I love the fact that she used that euphamism not out of shame, but because she had already read the kind of woman Christine was shortly after walking in...(a lady in other words, seeing as she even scolds the Ryan character for using foul language).

I hadn't forgotten about this one actually, because I hold everything in that movie to heart.

Rachel said...

I do remember her. I didn't love the film overall (the end seemed to drag out 20 minutes too long) but Amy did a brilliant job with such a small, yet important, role. I was particularly captivated by her b/c I had just watched her do comedy at the end of Season 4 of The Office.

Simon said...

I haven't seen this, but I do love me some Amy Ryan.

Luke said...

I agree. I always think Amy Ryan is biting into these great roles and going way under the radar. She got attention in Gone Baby Gone which was surprising. And you have to love Holly from The Office.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

darren i agree with you completely. she's constantly good in these small roles, she deserves more.

nigel nice comment. she sure is a smart lady and amy plays it just right.

rachel where exactly was her emmy for the outstanding work on the office?

simon well the film isn't about her, but i'm sure you'll at least love her cameo.

luke i do love holly, i do.

Anonymous said...

Amy Ryan is in Changeling? No one told me! I have to see it now.

Robert said...

I'm so glad you wrote about her because I remembered Amy Ryan's performance quite well! When I saw Changeling she was probably my favorite thing about it.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

james someone didn't read my review. i can't say you'll LOVE it (even though i really liked it), but amy is flawless...and i think jolie's great, too.

robert i was waiting for someone to say she was their favourite part, i know it's not wholly loved :)