Sunday, 27 June 2010

Scene On A Sunday: Shakespeare in Love

I wasn't planning on posting an episode of Scene on a Sunday today, but I've had this drafted for a while and thought, why not? It's a bit tough coming off the Atonement entry which you all seemed to love because of Yojimbo's many screen captures. Only 12 for this entry. I've expressed my love for Shakespeare in Love before and this short scene is particularly nice. We've seen only a few shots of Paltrow thus far enjoying the plays at the palace. We meet her now for the first time. The shot opens with a gorgeous shot of the house.
Shakespeare in Love easily notes the richness of our heroine, and though it's Wessex's reason for marrying her it's never made an issue out of. Of course this is because it's the Elizabethan era and our characters have bigger fish to fry - Shakespearean fish. I just love seeing Paltrow in this mode, though. She's so personable and has such a beautiful lilting voice.
VIOLA: Did you like Proteus or Valentine best? Proteus for speaking. Valentine for looks.
In case we don't already know, she's speaking of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of Shakespeare's earlier comedies. It's a fair pice, though nowhere near his best (of course Viola will quote a beautiful soliloquy from it later) but Viola is almost like a "groupie" for Shakespeare and she's so caught up in the "poetry".
NURSE: I liked the dog for laughs.
And on that note can we please discuss the brilliance that is Imelda Staunton here? Why does no one remember her excellent comedic timing here. She's not even "acting" like you'd expect, she's so completely in the character and refuses to play it prosaicly. The relationship between her and Viola is lovely, even if they really are speaking over each other.
VIOLA: Sylvia I did not care for much. His fingers were red from fighting and he spoke like a school boy at lessons.
She's referring, naturally, to the custom of men playing women and her annoyance is palpable. I don't think of Paltrow as particularly physical in her acting but she's acting with her entire body here. Notice how she slumps her shoulders just slightly, so impassioned about something like the injudicious lot of a badly played Sylvia. She really is a fan of "Master" Shakespeare.
VIOLA: Stage love will never be true love while the law of the land has our heroines being played by pipsqueak boys in petticoats
I wish you could hear how she delivers this line. Her stress on the word "boys" is a nice slight touch. Her brilliance here is often forgotten, even  I sometime forget that she really did a fine job. And there's more going on in that shot. Like the Nurse cleaning Viola's ears for her, and the obvious dynamic of the servant/mistress that still manage to attain a personal bond - very Shakespeare. The two will soon have a slight banter about Lord Wessex. Viola of course will have none of the Nurse's suggestion. Marry Lord Wessex? A pox on Wessex!
VIOLA: I shall have poetry in my life.
The words are lovely, but you must give Gwyn credit for pulling off the trueness of the period. And, as always, the Nurse is not far behind to ask her: Like Sylvia and Valentine?
VIOLA: No not the artful postures of love. Love that overthrows life. Love like there has never been in a play. I shall have love, or I shall end my days...
NURSE: As a nurse?
Love that portion. viola is so enamoured with the postures of love (even if she doesn't realise) and Staunton is ready to inject wisdowm without being condescending about it. She is, after all, paid help and with almost no life of her own. Yet, she continues to be so devoted to her charge and never sinks into self pity. Her line reading there is precise, but never pitiful.
VIOLA: Oh, but I would be Valentine and Sylvia, too.
Her earnestensss is so infectuous, how can anyone root against this lovely woman?
VIOLA: I would stay asleep my whole life if I could dream myself into a company of players.
I love that shot above, Viola stares out wistfully and she is framed soooo beautifully and Stoppard words read as if they're almost poetry. I choose to end the scene there, even though Viola's poetic words are cut by the Nurse's matter-of-fact "Clean your teeth while you dream then." Such a perfect blend of comedy and olden aged drama. I do love this scene.

1 comment:

Dan (Top10Films) said...

Excellent scene deconstruction Andrew. You're right about Imelda Staunton - she's a fabulous actor and doesn't seem to get much recognition (she was brilliant in Vera Drake. She was also menacing in Harry Potter).