Glenda Jackson in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

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Glenda Jackson received her second Oscar nomination for playing Alex Greville in Sunday Bloody Sunday. She was fresh off her Oscar win for Women In Love, and I think the Academy clearly loved her, but she probably had no chance to win. Jane Fonda was phenomenal in Klute.

I feel like I should have loved Sunday Bloody Sunday more than I actually do, but for some reason I couldn’t really get into the film. Still, I’ll admit that it’s a very interesting story and I thought the script was fantastic – a man and a woman sharing a common lover. I liked how the characters are crafted and developed, and I liked how realistic the whole film felt despite it being such an unusual story. It’s like an artwork that I respect more than I loved, though I think it deserved all of its nominations. I’ll be talking about Peter Finch’s performance in a separate post.

Glenda Jackson is slowly becoming one of my favourites even though I have only seen 2 of her Oscar winning works prior to this film. I’ll always defend her “upset” win for A Touch Of Class, as I loved her performance in that otherwise mediocre film. I really like her acting style – she uses her presence to make any character she plays interesting, and I love how she always layers her characters to make them so complex and fascinating. She’s also one of the few actresses who can show both strength and vulnerability within a character so well.

Alex Greville, to me, is probably the most interesting character in the film. She’s definitely a very complex character, and it’s as though she was created specifically for Glenda Jackson to play. Sunday Bloody Sunday has a rather unusual story structure, but Jackson uses it to her advantage. She a bit hard to read, as she doesn’t always reveal her feelings out loud, but Jackson manages to show all of the troubles that have been haunting her. We get the sense that she’s the typical lonely and insecure woman who wants to be loved but has trouble keeping this lover she shares with another man. Jackson, as always, makes her such a compelling and fascinating presence. She also has a few breakdowns that she pulls off very well, such as one particular scene where she starts crying after Bob left her just for a while. They’re all so strange and random, and yet she pulls it off.  People often praise the scene where she imagines the dead child though I find that the direction is the main reason why that part worked so effectively. To me, the strength of her work comes from the way she reveals her character’s lonely and insecure personality through her interactions with the other characters. Jackson clearly understands Alex Greville inside out, and I liked how she slowly shows the character regaining confidence in herself and learning to rely less on Bob.

Still, I have to confess that while I find this a great performance, like the movie, I wasn’t completely taken. I feel like Sunday Bloody Sunday is a film that needs to be watched more than once to be fully appreciated, and it’s the same for Glenda Jackson’s performance. Still, I really liked what I saw and I think this is strong work by a truly great actress. 4.5/5.


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