Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Randomness on Viola de Lesseps; or Yes, I do love Shakespeare in Love

Whenever I say that Shakespeare in Love is one of my favourite films of the 90s I just know people think I'm trying to mess with them. Alas, no. I still use it in my head as a barometer of ideal romantic comedy from the last twenty years. It's charming, moving, not too earnest and it fulfills all of my literary geekiness, so it's really a win/win.
There is so much for me to love in the film, though sometimes I forget to remember how luminous Gwyneth Paltrow is in her often reviled Oscar winning turn. It seems unwieldy to always attach a defense to a performance you like. I've accepted that Gwyneth's work is not much loved. Which is a shame. More than the basics of getting the British accent right (and, really, she so thoroughly captures the concept of what you'd expect a Shakespeare Viola to be it is worth taking note of) the role is such a perfect use of her general warmth as a performer while still not being anachronistic in its characterisation. She's all that while being a legitimately comedic force (she's the last Best Actress winner in a comedy). I tend to think of Viola de Lesseps and immediately smile because it's that sort of irresistible performance which is not my favourite in the film (Fiennes is one of my favourite leading turns of the entire decade) is just a joy to watch.

I know it's a performance I love because I can think of specific moments without much effort. Her passionate soliloquy to her Nurse (also, tipping my hat Stoppard's perfect screenplay), the "Can you love a player?" to Fiennes, the slap to Colin, the chemistry with  Imelda. Hell, I still probably wouldn't have given her the Oscar, but it's a shame when that becomes the bar for deciding what NOT to like. My pick or not, even though I know many don't care for her work, I've got Gwynnie's back for her enchanting Viola.
Am I alone?


Fritz said...

This movie is sooo fantastic! And Gwyneth's performance ages very well.

Jess said...

I can acknowledge the same things I love, and I agree perhaps she didn't deserve the Oscar but the backlash is mostly annoying at this point.

Nick Prigge said...

The performance wouldn't be so unfairly unloved if she hadn't won the Oscar, which is just so unfair. I dare say if she hadn't won she would be remembered as being good - perhaps even quite good. Which is how I think of her performance here - quite good.

Tom Wilkinson is my personal favorite.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

fitz and that's a big asset for a romantic comedy. it's not especially deep but it's a rewarding film to re-watch, as is the performance.

jess "mostly annoying at this point" agreed.

nick that's actually the basis of an article i may or may not right. if the reason you begin to hate a performance is because it wins awards, i sort of think less of you as a critic.

tom is a hoot. it's such a great ensemble doing really fun things. (we rarely see rush, for example, in that register.)

Suzy said...

She's a good actress & gives a good performance in a decent film but really the Oscar should've gone to Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth.