Sunday, January 18, 2009

Film Persona: Kate Winslet Part 4- Shame and Secrets

Marrying director Sam Mendes and raising her two beautiful children, Kate Winslet stepped into the real life role of the loving wife and mother.  In her movies as well, Kate plays married women, yet in the movies the women possess a strong mind and lead unsatisfied and passionless lives. These women are more mature and complicated—committing shameful acts that they try to keep secret. And of course, for the sake of her craft, Kate bares all (body and soul).

Little Children (2006)
The issue: sex addiction and little children.
Kate dives into the realm of "Desperate Housewife".  She plays Sarah Pierce, a dowdy housewife who is an academic at heart.  She feels suffocated by the banalities of the other neighboring wives, until a desirable stay-at-home father visits the park and Sarah befriends him and starts scheduling play dates.  She begins an affair with him.
The plot thickens when a sex offender moves into the neighborhood.
Watching this movie, I began to notice how disgusting our culture can be. For sure, the movie illicit many emotions and is well written.
Kate's performance is nothing short of...phantasmagoric.  She plays a despicable adulterous woman, yet she can evoke the audience sympathy without being self-pitying.  Despite her character's repugnant behavior and choices, I can't help but feel empathetic and admit that I would've (and already have) made the same foolish choices.  She delivers a thought provoking performance that culminates when she and her son encounter the child offender (played eerily by former child actor Jackie Earle Haley.
This film, if it weren't for the fact that it has the power to make you face your sexual vices unflinchingly, is perfect.  Every member of the cast and the production, no matter how brief their screen time or unseen they may be, contributes their part so perfectly and fittingly.
The film also stars Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Noah Emmerich and Phyllis Somerville as the sex offender's mother.
Written by Tom Perrotta
Directed by Todd Field
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Revolutionary Road (2008)
Roger Ebert, in his review, quoted John Lennon. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." I believe that sums up this movie.
Kate's film persona so far, could very well be summed up in this movie: she plays Leonardo Dicaprio's mother once more; she is a strong woman, stifled by society; she is a mother who has affairs; I don’t want to spoil the movie, so I'll stop there.
Her performance is so refined, well, it’s not a performance because I didn't feel as if I was watching Kate Winslet act, she was this woman, April Wheeler (who originally wanted to be an actress) . Unhappy and trapped, she is suffocated by the suburbs.
But her performance in this film is her masterpiece-- definitely her most precious contribution to the film world.
Directed by husband, Sam Mendes.RecentlyUpdated11_thumb6

 

The Reader (2008)
Kate plays a concentration camp guard, on trial for war crimes.
Not many actresses can break my heart so well as Kate can.  Her scenes, close-ups, while on trial are gut wrenching.
Yet what makes her portrayal special is that I don't pity her. Kate doesn't ask the audience for so simple a response.  The emotions she evokes stem far deeper and are more complex than "pity".
Written by David Hare
Directed by Stephen Daldry
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