Friday, 27 April 2012

Forgotten Characters 5.2

Previously Forgotten: Christopher Walken in Annie Hall

Every actor in a film can never get accolades, unless it’s the type of film like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf where there aren’t that many performers to remember. So, ensembles films are something of the worst then. True, if the film turns out well you can always that you’ve contributed to being part of well oiled-machine – which everyone in this next film can confess to. But, it’s a bit of a shame when integral parts of the machine seem hardly ever to be remembered. For example, I think few would be able to single out this performer without some amount of cajoling even though the performance cited here is an excellent one. I’m referring to

Stephen Dillane in The Hours 
as Leonard Woolf 

For the record, Dillane’s performance is not in the typical vein of a “forgotten” performance since it’s not a subsidiary performance (and, for the record, he’d make my 2002 supporting actor shortlist) but it is the way of the business that persons seem more likely to remember that John C. Reilly and Jeff Daniels (both with smaller roles) were in The Hours at the expense of Dillane’s performance. Perhaps, because Dillane (Tony winner and Emmy nominee, though, he may be) is not as big a name as the other gents in the film.

I’m shining a light on this, though, because the excellent Leonard Woolf has taken a backseat to Virginia in history and in the film, which is something of a shame because – yes – Virginia (and Nicole) are both genius but so was Leonard.
Of course, the film about its women and how the men around them are defined by them is supposed to make Leonardo appear as a complement to Virginia – and he is. Dillane’s very performance outwardly exists as a buttress for Kidman to rest her Woolf upon. And, although I cannot quite nominate him as being her best screen partner (alas, no one top the rapport between Virginia and Vanessa) the easy lilt between the two is lovely to watch.

The random person asked to remember a great scene from Nicole tend to turn to the train station scene (incidentally, not my favourite scene – but I digress). And, Nicole is indeed, brilliant, but so is Stephen.
His big moment, when it comes, is edited as less as a moment for him and more of an impetus for Virginia to react to. And, still, even though within that big monologue he does not get the best line he gives my favourite line reading of the scene after Virginia – almost scoffing responds to his claim that the printing press was set up for her, he explodes.

It was done for you! It was done for your betterment! It was done out of love!! 
  And, but of course, his strongest scene is a just a reinforcement of how he’s existing for Virginia…but, that’s as it should be. It doesn’t make his performance any less good….only, unfortunately, forgotten.
 Or, do I misjudge the situation? Do you remember Dillane’s fine work as Leonard?


Squasher88 said...

YES! I keep going back to his IMDb and every time I am shocked that he didn't get any awards nominations for his performance. I love this exact scene and line reading. Great choice for "forgotten characters".

Nikhat said...

Oh all this is making me crave The Hours so bad now. But then I'll become gloomy :/
I loved Dillane's character too. I always feel bad for Leonard Woolf when I think about Virginia. In a way the stories of all the men in this film were as tragic, if not more, than the women and Leonard's was especially sad because he really tried to save her.

Ugh this film :'(

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

shane glad you're a fan. that entire bit slays me. he's as good as nicole in that particular scene.

nikhat "ugh this film" yes. it's so sad but it's so beautiful. see it, then see something hilarious afterwards.