Sunday, March 02, 2014

Best Actress

There wasn't a lot promising about the character of Bree Daniels.  Not as written in Andy and Dave Lewis' screenplay.  But director Alan J. Pakula wanted Jane Fonda for the role and was willing to take her on as a real collaborator.

Bree was a call girl.  Jane's research unearthed various details including the popularity of images of John F. Kennedy in the homes of many call girls.  It would be among the many details she added to the set for Bree's apartment.

Pakula trusted Jane's skill for improvisation and some of the best moments in the film are Bree's sessions with her psychiatrist (Vivian Nathan).  They're raw and they're real.

They are part of the reason Bree is so fully realized.


Jane also delivered with regards to the scripted scenes.

A product of the Actors Studio, Jane can easily work from the inside out and come up with stunning externals for her characters.  But it's a known problem for the Studio that their alumni often gets a wonderful bit of steam going into a scene but loses it as the lines grow in importance.

That's not the case with Fonda and especially not the case with regards to her Bree.  All the sense memory and other tools that allow her to become Bree when Bree is walking or standing in silence continue to erupt when she has to serve the script.

"Are you upset because you didn't make me cum?  I never come with a john,"  Bree explains to Klute (Donald Sutherland) in one of the more brutally honest scenes in the film.

Jane Fonda's performance in Klute resulted in her first Academy Award for Best Actress.  The performance remains the finest film acting by anyone -- male or female -- in the 20th century.

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