The Role of a Lifetime: 5

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Photograph of Wali Jamal, actor, writer, monologuist and multimedia producer.

Some roles are downright pathetic. In Two Lovers, Leonard dates one girl while plotting to run away with another. Yes, he’s depressed and suicidal, he lives with his parents and takes photographs of barren streets, but he’s also cheating on a really sweet young woman. When they get engaged, Leonard doesn’t have the courage to tell his fiancée that he’s skipping town with a mysterious blonde, who just happens to be his self-obsessed neighbor. Instead, he goes ahead and plots his escape. When this plan ends badly, we’re forced to ask: Is Leonard just a big kid with woman issues? Or is he kind of an asshole? Either way, Joaquin Phoenix clearly relished the part.

The most shocking character is Julia, Tilda Swinton’s shaky alcoholic, who seems perfectly content to crush a stranger with her car and kidnap a child in order to make some quick dough. The critics regaled Swinton with kind words, and the accolades were well-deserved – but Julia is probably the most immoral character of the bunch. In this Role of a Lifetime, Swinton is slutty, selfish, narcissistic and abusive of children – and she shoots a guy in the head, showing no remorse. Does she deserve our respect when she saves the boy from the Mexican mafia? Hard to say.

The opposite situation is the full-blown victim: someone who wants to live an ordinary life, but can’t. Hilary Swank’s character in Boys Don’t Cry could only exist by pretending to be male, until she’s discovered, raped and murdered. Or there’s Charlize Theron in Monster, who starts as a prostitute and ends up as a serial killer. And gets the death sentence.


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