1977

The Goodbye Girl (1977)

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I watched The Goodbye Girl a couple of years back and kinda hated it then. I found it artificial, contrived and overly theatrical. I felt like Neil Simon was trying to throw in as many wisecracks and witty lines into the script, and it was quite grating. Re-watching it this time round, well…I actually still feel the same way, except that I don’t hate it anymore. I understand the whole angle it was going for and I can accept why so many people find it a charming film. That being said, I could not help but wonder if I would have appreciated it more as a live theater production. Still, it is a nice, heartwarming tale about falling in love under unlikely circumstances (*coughs* better explored in Annie Hall *coughs*) and I did smile at the end of it.

Certain things definitely improved on this re-watch. Firstly, I thought Richard Dreyfuss deserved his slightly unpopular Oscar win. He has always been the mvp of this film for me, but I really enjoyed his performance this time round. It’s an atypical win for this category, especially if you were to compare it to the other winners of this decade, but I thought it was so damn good. Even when his character was annoying and grating in the beginning, I actually felt sorry for him and understood where he was coming from. And then when we understood the character’s struggles more, with Dreyfuss nailing the vulnerable moments (his sadness after his failed play was pretty heartbreaking), I actually got to appreciating how multi-faceted his portrayal is. He actually has some pretty similar mannerisms to Woody Allen’s performance is Annie Hall, except that I find Dreyfuss a much more charismatic and charming performer. I mean, that rooftop dinner is so cheesy and yet I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t charmed by it.

On the other hand, I am pretty much with Roger Ebert on Marsha Mason’s performance. I never really appreciated it then, and unfortunately, I still kinda feel the same way. A lot of people are saying that she should have won the Oscar but I totally don’t get this love. Definitely not over Keaton, and I actually would have ranked some of the other nominees over her. While Dreyfuss manages to give a convincing portrayal, I feel that Mason kinda flounders a bit and she never really overcomes the artificiality of the script. In fact, I felt that some of her neurotic tics and line deliveries were quite fake. Maybe I just don’t “get” her acting style, but there are times I found her more annoying than Dreyfuss and no, it is not the character. Most people seem to feel the other way round though.

Overall, The Goodbye Girl was a nice film, but I personally never cared too much for it. I don’t think Neil Simon’s writing is really my kind of thing – or at least on film. Dreyfuss elevates it imo, but as a whole – okay, with nice performance by Quin Cummings and song by David Gates. 3/5

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Julia (1977)

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Julia (1977) is based on a section of Lillian Hellman’s book Pentimento. The story follows the relationship between Hellman and her best friend Julia, who is also an anti-Nazi activist.

I watched Julia many years ago, and I remembered it as a fantastic introduction to Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Fred Zinnemann. I was thoroughly hooked from the beginning to end by every aspect of this film: the direction, the score, the slightly “surreal”/”dreamy” atmosphere, and the top-notch acting. I will discuss Jane Fonda’s performance in another post, and okay, I didn’t get Maximilian Schell’s nomination. I mean he was fine but no, he didn’t need to be nominated for that. Jason Robards was good, and I have no issues with his win but it is really Vanessa Redgrave who absolutely deserved her Oscar. She has always been actress who could do so much with so little, and it’s the same here. She utilizes her extremely unique screen presence (I’m sure her greatest fans would know what I am referring to) to bring out the mystery behind this character, and like many others, we never know whether she existed or not. Although she only appears in a couple of scenes throughout the films, she makes Julia such a fascinating and complex character – a great friend, an intelligent young woman, a fierce political activist, a *SPOILER ALERT* mother to an unseen child…

I have always been a fan of Fred Zinnemann’s movies, and over here his direction is truly in top form. I usually have issues with non-linear narratives, but thanks to Zinnemann’s expert direction, it works amazingly in this film. The way the childhood scenes were interwoven with the present scenes was flawlessly handled, especially the way they were used to develop the story. They also helped in creating the aforementioned “dreamy” atmosphere, letting the viewers wonder whether the entire story was real or merely a figment of Hellman’s imagination. And the tense atmosphere in the train scene was one of the best “suspenseful moments” I have ever seen in a movie. The whole segment was done in a simple and understated way, and yet Zinnemann’s direction (and Fonda’s performance) constantly keeps you on the edge, always guessing what is going to happen next.

Friendship is never an easy theme to cover realistically, as most films tend to address it in a rather superficial manner. I can easily say that Julia and Lillian’s friendship is one of the best I’ve ever seen portrayed on film. Thanks to the strong performances by Redgrave and Fonda, the portrayal of Lillian and Julia’s friendship is both touching and heartbreaking. I never once doubted the authenticity of their relationship, which was epitomized during their brief reunion in the cafe scene (SO good). When they parted, the heartbreak and sadness in both characters were so real that I felt slightly uncomfortable.

I could go on about what a perfect film Julia is to me, but you will really have to see it for itself to experience it. Even though I’ve already seen it once, I was still thoroughly drawn by it from beginning to end on this rewatch. Truly an underrated classic. 5/5.

Annie Hall (1977)

I have always been vocal about my thoughts about Diane Keaton’s iconic Oscar-winning turn as Annie Hall – to me, she is my second favourite best actress winner after Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (And yes, I have watched Sophie’s Choice/Gone With The Wind etc.). Nonetheless, re-watching Annie Hall as a part of my personal project to watch all of the 70s best picture nominated films made me nervous – what if the performance didn’t impress me as much as before? I certainly hate the feeling of disappointment.

Before I go into Keaton’s performance, I thought I’ll be frank and just say that Annie Hall is a film I respect more than enjoy. I can respect why so many consider it as one of their favourites of all time – it is a fresh, original and unique love story, even by today’s standards. The two leads aren’t particularly attractive, there isn’t any heartbreaking melodrama, and it is told entirely from the perspective of the neurotic male lead, which leads to some truly interesting scenes where the characters break the fourth wall, or when they literally visit the past. That being said, despite the strangeness of the film, there’s a realism to this film that allows it to reach out to the viewers, effectively conveying its message about love fading. There’s no cancer, no car accidents, no deaths, no poverty, no evil in-laws in this story – it’s all about people, how they change and how their perspectives of life change, including love. This is one aspect of the film which I truly respect – it takes this simple reality of life and tells it in a unique, refreshing manner.

And yet, my main issue about the film lies with its master itself. First of all, I never let my personal opinion of an artist affect my opinion of his work (Polanski), but the fact remains that I find Woody Allen a real creep, and unfortunately, it really shows in his work. It’s not as bad here as in some of his other films where the self-indulgence is unbearable, but the neurotic ramblings of Alvy Singer, who is essentially Allen with a different name, was really plain annoying at times. Yes, yes, I do see the layers in his performance, and I do like the self-deprecating touch in his work (then again, maybe not since the character is so full of himself), but I really felt a bit grossed out whenever I see him and Annie Hall kissing and about to have sex. For the most part, Keaton’s brilliant performance saved this as she really sold their romance and brought about the necessary sweetness and love needed to portray their relationship. Look, I totally understand that my judgement here is flawed and biased, but whenever I see Allen on screen having sex with different women (not the actual act, thank goodness), it really turns me off. Sorry about that, don’t want to offend the fans.

Nonetheless, it is Diane Keaton who makes the film. She is this film, she is the heart of the film, and thankfully, instead of disappointment, I found my respect for this performance tripling after this re-visit (though still not enough to usurp Vivien Leigh as personal favourite). She’s just so damn good and frankly, I don’t think anyone can ever pull off such a character as well as she did. I mean, I don’t think any of the modern actresses like Emma Stone (whom I really like btw) nowadays can pull off what she did here. Her performance is just so damn real, layered and relatable. I daresay that her performance is one of the most accurate portrayals of the nervousness, the awkwardness, the constant self-exploration and discovery that we all go through. Watching Annie find her true passion and calling in life was such a relatable experience, and as I always say, a performance that can make a line like “la-dee-da” sound so natural is a damn good one.

Still, I have not much negative thoughts for Annie Hall. I can even respect the best picture and best director win because it is a unique film that succeeds in what it sets out to do. While not my favourite, I totally understand where the love is coming from. That being said, Diane saves this film for me, and hence, I am willing to give it a 4.

p.s. I told you I haven’t gave up on this, I’m just taking forever.

Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point (1977)

Anne Bancroft

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Anne Bancroft received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Emma Jackson, an ageing ballerina in The Turning Point (1977).

I am trying not to launch into a lengthy post about how Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Geraldine Page are 3 of my top inspirations. Maybe not my most favourite actresses (although they no doubt are among my favourites), but definitely the few that I admire the most. Which is strange, considering that I actually haven’t seen a lot of Bancroft and Page’s movies (I have only seen 3 of Geraldine Page’s movies). When I was doing theatre in school, I remember repeatedly watching youtube clips featuring the greatest moments from these 3 actresses (like the table fight scene in The Miracle Worker, the seduction scene in The Graduate, the church scene in Interiors and the red dress monologue in Requiem for a Dream). Of course, it sounds as though I was treating a uni play way too seriously (there was an actual acting coach present though, so it was pretty intense), but watching these clips really motivated me and inspired me. I felt as if I learned so much about acting from these 3 actresses. Of course, I’m not saying my actual performance ever hit that level (I wish), but it was a really wonderful feeling to draw inspiration from them for my own craft.

Anne Bancroft was a really fascinating actress. She was incredibly versatile, natural, and she had this power in her work that will really hit you in the guts. It’s amazing, considering that she actually rarely goes over the top or chew scenery in her performances. I know we often describe how certain aspects of a performer are their “assets”, such their eyes or their voice, but in Bancroft’s case, I feel as though she radiates acting strength. Of course, her voice is fantastic, but you can really sense how she is always in total control of her body and emotions when she acts, which is just incredible to watch.

The role of Emma, for me, is the highlight of The Turning Point. People often point out how limited Bancroft’s screentime is and how she should be more of a supporting character. I will be perfectly honest here and tell you that I actually didn’t even notice how limited her screentime was because I was so captivated by her performance. I found her presence so strong that she turns her story into the main one of the film, and I frankly cannot classify her as a supporting role. It’s a very similar situation to Patricia Neal’s best actress win in Hud.

What I loved the most about Bancroft’s performance is the numerous layers she adds to Emma, and how naturally she does it. Emma is actually a pretty kind and nice person by nature, and it is sort of easy to see why she is so respected by her peers. Bancroft uses her unique presence to her advantage – even though she doesn’t really dance in the film, there’s this aura she emits that suggests she is (or was once) a pro.

The bitterness and fears are all brilliantly handled by Bancroft. I really felt her desperation when she is starting to lose the roles to the younger dancers, but there is this pride and dignity about her that is really respectable. She doesn’t even really cry or anything; there was one fantastic scene where she started having hiccups after being turned down for a role. It seemed like such an odd reaction and yet to me it spoke volumes about the character.

We also got to see the manipulative side of Emma, where she started treating Emilia (Leslie Browne) as her own daughter. What works for this part is how naturally it came to the character, so much so that I wouldn’t even exactly say that the character is manipulative per se. To me, it is just something that happened, because Emma has always longed for a family and I felt that the motherly way she treated Emilia was a subconscious thing. I love her reaction when she was asked to mentor Emilia; the way her eyes lit up really made me feel for her.

People often say that the weaker aspect of this performance would be the catfight scene. To me, Bancroft pulls it off even though I agree that it seemed incongruent with the rest of her performance. Frankly, I blame this on the writing more than anything. There is way too much class in Emma to engage in this kind of ridiculous hair pulling and spanking, and it probably shouldn’t have turned out this way. Both actresses managed to save it with the laughter, but I always felt that this part was a weak link for the entire film.

To conclude, I will say that I really loved Anne Bancroft’s performance in The Turning Point. I can understand the major issues people have with it, such as the limited screentime and its non-flashiness, but I really took away a lot from her work here. In fact, while I definitely don’t think she should win over Keaton, I feel like performance would have been the kind of Oscar win that people don’t mind too much, even if they don’t agree with it. A great performance by a gifted performer that gets 4.5/5. I’m not over-enthusiastic.

Shirley MacLaine

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Shirley MacLaine also received her fourth best actress nomination for playing Deedee in The Turning Point. I disagree when some people say that MacLaine had a high chance of winning because of the “overdue” factor. The Oscar was the only award she was nominated for, which just seemed unlikely. And frankly, while I think she is a movie star in her own right, I don’t think there was enough hype for the voters to suddenly swing in her direction. Of course, I am purely speculating here and I am not familiar at all with the situation back then, so feel free to correct me

Unlike Anne Bancroft, I don’t really want to talk that much about Shirley MacLaine. Do I think she’s a damn good actress? Yes. But there is something about her personality that I dislike, and unfortunately, her arrogance does show in her lesser roles. I still enjoy her performances in general though, and I do respect her a lot as a performer.

Although MacLaine has a lot more screentime than Bancroft, I frankly find her the less interesting character. There are some who prefer her over Bancroft, and there are some who do not (including me), but I will say that she does have quite a lot of great acting moments scattered throughout the film. What bugs me is that even though she is more lead than Bancroft (by virtue of screentime), you realise that her character is not as layered and she actually doesn’t really do much in the screentime she has. She has conversations with the other characters, she looks after her children, but it doesn’t really reveal anything about the character or introduce some sort of inner conflict. It’s just a portrait of a woman who has given up her career and decided to be a mother instead.

Of course, the main thing that plays out extremely well is Deedee’s regret over giving up her career for her family. MacLaine succeeds in portraying Deedee’s insecurities, and you can tell that the decision has bugged her for a very long time. Unfortunately, the performance starts to run thin and for me, it makes the character less interesting. I wouldn’t say she’s boring like some do, because I do feel for Deedee and her regrets, but compared to the complexities of Bancroft’s Emma, it’s just not that interesting. There are also a lot of great brief moments here and there, such as her happiness and pride when she sees her daughter dancing, or the jealousy in her eyes when she sees Emma’s relationship with Emilia. A lot of it has got to do with the way the character is written, but I do wish MacLaine would have went all out in bringing out the character’s flaws instead of showing flashes of it here and there. I just think that unlike the graceful Emma, Deedee’s personality requires more force and less class.

The highlight of the performance is probably the catfight scene, but to be honest, I felt that MacLaine was outacted by Bancroft in the confrontation scene. Even though Deedee is the one throwing out the accusations and “attacking” Emma, Bancroft just calmly shoots her down in this “bitch, please” way that makes her pale in comparison. The line “I’m too good” that was delivered by Bancroft pretty much sums up the whole scene. That may also have been the intention behind the scene, but I felt like MacLaine didn’t really match the level of intensity that Bancroft was giving.

The catfight scene, however, is probably more of MacLaine’s moment than Bancroft. It’s horrible writing but the “NOT MY DAUGHTER” scream really worked. I know this is going to sound weird, but I actually think that MacLaine is at her best when she gets to ham it up a little. There’s so much force and anger here that was lacking in the early scene with Emilia (cause Browne was so underwhelming too), and it made me realise what was needed for this performance. It was like a largely absent but necessary contrast to Bancroft’s quieter role.

Then again, although I might have sounded too critical, I actually have no problems with MacLaine’s performance here. I had no problems with her deliveries or her acting choices, and if you would have noticed that a lot of what I said was about what “it could have been” rather than what “she should not have done”. It’s really not a bad performance (it’s pretty good actually), and it fits the movie well, I just don’t think it is the highlight. I can live with the nomination and give it a strong 3.5/5.

The Turning Point (1977)

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Alright, this is my unofficial start of my 1977 best picture reviews. As usual, don’t expect me to complete this extremely fast – in fact, don’t be surprised if I complete this by the end of the year (which I definitely will). Of course, I hope to complete this asap too but I expect myself to not have a lot of free time in the future.

I decided to start my first 1977 best picture nominee with The Turning Point, which is the only film out of all 5 that I have not watched. Furthermore, I was very interested in watching it cause the several reviews I’ve read about it said that it was horrible, so strangely enough, it got me curious.

The Turning Point also has the distinction of being the only film, other than The Color Purple, that received 11 Oscar nominations and zero wins. And is it worthy of such acclaim? Personally, I think 11 nominations are a bit much since there are at least 2 that we can do without (more on that later). But to be honest, I actually found the film rather watchable and not as horrid as people say. Maybe this is due to the numerous horrible best picture nominees from the 40s that I’ve put myself through, but I actually thought The Turning Point was an okay film. Having said that, that’s all I think it is: an okay film.

The story revolves around two ballerinas, Deedee (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma (Anne Bancroft), who were once close friends from the same dance company. The main focus of the story is on the regrets of both characters, namely Deedee’s decision to leave her career because of her pregnancy, and Emma’s ageing and loneliness. There were some pretty complex layers behind both characters that made me interested in finding out more about them. Both actresses were nominated for best actress and gave fine performances – I’ll elaborate more in a separate post. I know many people accuse the story of being ridiculously soapy, but I was actually rather interested in it. I think what worked for me was the characterization of the two female leads (yes, including Bancroft). The gradual build-up of the feud between them, as well as the exploration of their regrets, sadness and inner demons were no doubt the driving forces behind the story. The other aspects leave a lot to be desired.

The script, unfortunately, is probably not the most subtle and borders on ridiculous sometimes. I mean, did the whole confrontation between Deedee and Bancroft really needed all those metaphors about bullfrogs and toads? Did the dance sequences really needed the voice overs of the characters? And don’t even get me started on that overblown, ridiculous catfight on the rooftop – it was sort-of saved by the talents of both actresses, but it just seemed like the weirdest and cheesiest “climax” ever. The supporting characters were also one-note and uninteresting, such as Martha Scott’s Adelaide and the other dancers in the dance company that you couldn’t care less about. The overall direction of the film is also nothing really special to me, and in fact, the story can drag out unnecessarily at times.

Still, I think the film succeeds in capturing the highly competitive, exhausting and yet fascinating nature of the profession. As someone who has zero interest in dance and knows nothing about ballet, I was really impressed by the dance sequences. The dancing talents of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne are on full display in this film. It doesn’t even take an expert to know that these 2 people are bloody good dancers. I still, however, question the way the dance sequences were inserted into the film. It’s as if it suddenly became a recorded dance concert towards the end. It’s not really bad since these scenes were actually enjoyable to watch, but it just felt a bit disjointed.

The two supporting nominations of Baryshnikov and Browne are probably among the most unpopular nominees ever, and I will have to agree that they are undeserved. I’m not going to bash them since you can go read an IMDB board for that. For me, I found Browne’s performance to be the more watchable one because her character actually had potential and I did feel for her at times, but her delivery was noticeably emotionless and plastic. She also obviously had problems handling her character. The changes she went through, such as her sudden anger towards her mother, felt so sudden and out of the blue that I was actually confused. Still, I thought Baryshnikov was just laughable – fantastic dancer, yes, but some of his line readings really made me laugh because he seemed so uncomfortable with them. But the worst thing is, his character is really just a prop in the entire story. Honestly, you know nothing about him and he is basically there just to show his fantastic dancing abilities then sleep with the female dancers. Even if it was played well, it wouldn’t have warranted a nomination imo.

All in all, I might have sounded overly critical of The Turning Point but believe it or not, I really had no issues watching the film. I was actually interested in watching it all the way to the end, especially because of the two lead actresses. The dancing, while overly drawn-out and out of place, was also a highlight for me. I have no problems in giving it a 3/5, although I’m leaning towards 3.5/5.

Performance of the week: Diane Keaton in Looking For Mr Goodbar (1977)

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I know this may make no sense to some, especially after how I’ve been rambling on and on about how I love Meryl Streep, Glenn Close , Sissy Spacek etc but I love Diane Keaton. Yes to many she’s not on the same level as those I’ve mentioned, and yet she still has her entire league of fans, including the newer generation of stars like Emma Stone and Natalie Portman. Sure, she may not be the most beautiful or versatile, and she tends to use the same mannerisms over and over again in her roles but there’s something that draws me to her performances – she acts from her heart. It can be hard to see, especially if you are fixated on her acting style and mannerisms, but it’s really there. I’ll be lying if I said that I wasn’t moved by the train station scene in Reds, or when she is talking about how lucky she is to be able to love in Marvin’s Room (or when she’s talking about her ex boyfriend/date), or basically her entire performance in Annie Hall (refer to previous post). It’s really this truthful acting that sets her performances apart from one another for me, and not see her as “playing herself” over and over again. Sure, her neurotic mannerisms and voice can grate on the nerves of some, especially in her performances today since she’s pretty much committing what I call career suicide, but for the most part it works for me and the rest of her fans.

Actually, if there is a year to prove Keaton’s range as an actress, it will be 1977. Besides giving one of my favourite Oscar winning performances of all time as the free spirited and lovely Annie Hall, she did a 180 degree turn in the same year itself as Theresa Dunn in Looking For Mr Goodbar, a lonely school teacher who cruises nightclubs in order to fill her empty life. Many people think that she won for this role instead of Annie Hall, because this is a darker, more complex character in a dramatic film. Well if you read my previous post you know I obviously disagree, but that being said, this performance is pretty great and has its merits as well. Keaton was nominated for a golden globe (drama) for this role but she lost to Jane Fonda in Julia. She did win the comedy one for Annie Hall though, tying with Marsha Mason for The Goodbye Girl (if I’m not wrong). Anyway 1977 was her year, and I really don’t think she was going to lose the Oscar. Her performance as Annie Hall was iconic and deserving, and she was further helped by this performance.

Looking For Mr Goodbar is a pretty forgotten film, but I think it’s truly great. It’s easy to see why it isn’t that popular; it’s a very controversial subject matter, and people were likely to have been turned off by the lead character’s behavior. The ending was disturbing as hell, considering that it is based on a true story. Anyway, the film may be shocking but I think it is a very saddening and disturbing portrait of lonely people and the night life. Some of the camerawork and editing are pretty interesting as well, especially when Keaton’s character is hallucinating/imagining things. Tuesday Weld was nominated for best supporting actress and I think she was truly great, although Vanessa Redgrave really deserved the win that year imo.

Theresa Dunn is a very, very complicated character to play and the performance can easily be misunderstood by some. When I first read about the character, 2 words came into my mind: Jane Fonda. I don’t know why, I could seriously imagine Jane Fonda in the part, bringing her nervousness and nailing the emotional moments. However, as I watched the film and got to mull over it, Keaton’s casting really made sense to me. It might seem odd at first, since she isn’t the most beautiful and sexy, but I think that’s the point of it. They needed an actress who could appear friendly and warm at the surface to play a loving teacher of deaf children, but was at the dame time not afraid to simultaneously bare her flaws and dark side on screen (“It was an abortion, Michael!”). She wasn’t supposed to be beautiful, she was supposed to be this ordinary looking woman you never expect to sleep around with strangers. Seeing Keaton bare everything emotionally and physically was certainly strange and shocking, and that was the point of it.

Easily, the most praiseworthy aspect of this performance is how Keaton balances the double life of this character. There are a lot of layers to this woman, and she reveals them one by one. As usual, she brings her trademark insecurities and neurotic mannerisms into her performance here, but instead of making us fall in love with her like in Annie Hall, she makes us feel that this woman is so…pathetic, and frankly disgusting. I know this might sound strange, but Keaton’s acting here is pretty brutal. When actors play pathetic characters they usually try to win over the sympathy of the audience with tears but when you watch Keaton as Theresa you just want to shake your head and go “Woman. Stop this stupidity and craziness. It’s gross.” Watching her apartment slowly get infested with cockroaches, or when she over sleeps because she was doing drugs the night before is just plain unpleasant.

Diane used her usual insecurities to show how this woman’s scoliosis has impacted her self-esteem ever since she was a young child. In a brilliant monologue to a professor she was having an affair with, she shows how the pain of the operation on her spine has left her disfigured emotionally and physically, leaving her to not understand what she has done to make God mad at her. Instead of crying and wailing, she made the choice of being strangely catatonic and “numb” in this scene, and it just works because it shows that this woman is so damaged to the point that she is almost “indifferent” towards her pain. As she said herself afterwards, “I’d rather be seduced than comforted”. To her, the pain and damage is already done, and the sleeping around and sex is basically her way of “recovery”. I have read some online comments about how they felt that Diane was very uncomfortable in her performance, and somehow this affected the effectiveness of her performance because they felt that her “sexiness” was very forced. While I won’t deny that this is certainly not a typical role of hers to play, and Keaton herself has remarked that this role was very difficult for her, I genuinely think that that is the point of it. Like I said, this woman merely needed the sex to “repair” her damaged self-esteem. She wasn’t like Catherine Tramell, who could flash her vagina at a whole lot of men like it was no big issue. The best scene that exemplified this would be when she was confronted by James (William Atherton) in her apartment. What James saw and said to her pretty much represented our point of view: “This is not you.” I think Keaton’s reaction here caused some misunderstanding, because some people felt that she was a bit unnatural. She responded in this almost childishly defensive tone, saying that this WAS her and started asking James whether he ever had a woman or not while attempting to seduce him on the bed (“I want you HERE!”). Many people felt that her sexiness and weird, “seductive” poses are off, but isn’t that EXACTLY the point? This woman is NOT a temptress, she’s just this sad and broken down thing living among dirty dishes and cockroaches. She thinks that her encounters with men are a way of reaffirming herself as an attractive woman when in reality they are just using her for free, easy sex. Like I said, when you see her you just want to shake your head and say, “No. Just no.”

As mentioned earlier, Keaton balances the double life of the character very well. The “daytime” Theresa is the Diane Keaton we are more used to watching. She works as a teacher for deaf children, and although her charm is not on the Annie Hall level, she brings her usual luminous and warm self to the screen. Just watching her being especially tender and kind to her students makes everything about the character clear. This is the life that she really wants, and the life that she gets the most meaning out of. To give love to the disabled and those in need, instead of her senseless lovemaking at night. You can say that sex is like a drug to her; she needs it badly, even if it’s something that she doesn’t want.

Someone said that Keaton’s character was suffering from borderline personality disorder, and it kind of makes sense considering how it could have stemmed from the woman’s past. Besides the great contrast in her day and night life, she injects her usual Keaton mannerisms and neurotic tics to this character, like in the scene she was imagining herself being arrested for drug possessions, or when she was pretending to punch the hanging ornaments in her apartment. It just makes the character seem a bit “off” and, once again, pathetic.

I guess a valid criticism would be that her some of her line readings can be a bit stiff, but the way I read it was really because the character was just trying waaaay to hard to be something she was not. It’s easy to see why Diane won the Oscar for Annie Hall in 1977 instead of this role. Of course, she was TOTALLY deserving for her performance in that part, but I think it’s also because of the fact that this character is a bit hard to interpret and weird, which is why some people could have misunderstood it. Well, that’s what I’m assuming anyway, and of course, I won’t deny that the Academy don’t usually go for controversial roles like this.

All in all, this is a great performance by a great actress I’m very fond of. It really shows the talent that Diane Keaton had, and it’s highly recommended for people who want to find out more of her other works other than Annie Hall. It just makes me sad about why she is appearing in crap like Smother and The Big Wedding, although I must admit that I kinda wanna watch And So It Goes LOL,