Thursday, April 21, 2011

NAOMI WATTS as Cristina Peck in 21 GRAMS


I love Naomi Watts but I just didn’t get MULHOLLAND DRIVE. I’ve seen it a bunch of times and I just don’t get it. If someone could enlighten me, I’m willing to mentor to the wiser. I haven’t completely understood a Lynch film since THE ELEPHANT MAN. He’s off his rocker – I love his tone and the commitment he gets from his actors – but he’s not playing with a full deck, not anymore. I especially loved a lot of the moments from his new arrival Naomi Watts – but it wasn’t a full performance. Not until 21 GRAMS. Overshadowed that year by Charlize – Naomi gave an absolutely thunderous performance here as the grieving wife and mother of two young children. Here the unthinkable happens.

Doctor Elizabeth Kubler Ross defined the various stages of death and dying – which was also later became the manual for grief counseling. Naomi’s Cristina Peck is locked in the anger stage like a runaway train with no breaks. With good reason, fractured by her grief, the sudden death of her husband and two young children, she falls back into her old demons of addiction.  Done to haunting perfection with no stone unturned, NAMOI WATTS is magnificent and terrifying in 21 GRAMS. She bolts through scenes and right through the camera. What I really noticed about her performance – something Amy Ryan also does as well  – is that they never pose or play to the camera – they let the camera find them. They are just in it. Naomi did it first and so remarkably here in 21 GRAMS – fiercely and furiously moves through scene after scene - catch up guys – I’m acting my ass off – stay with me. Her journey is the center of the film, her redemption; her heart is the one we want to see healed. The other characters make choices to a certain degree; Naomi’s Cristina is stuck with the bleak leftovers life has to offer.

21 GRAMS is a must-see motion picture. Naomi Watts, mesmerizing here as a broken woman, overflowing with pure hatred and bitterness — but little self-pity.
An unsaid, and sometimes said, bond connects the characters. A mere silent glance; a silent meditation of thoughts; or a silent desire to die. All this is captured by the performances, cinematography and a blank background score with passionate perfection. Watts’ tears leave you moist eyed, Penn’s pain can move a stone, and Del Toro’s self-condemnation make you alternatively pity and loathe him. Sooner or later, you find your ’self’ empathizing with the trials; the characters face tribulations and emotional turmoil.
Ultimately, moving performances augment González’s unorthodox style of non-linear storytelling to transcend the boundaries of gimmick-editing, driving home the point that: akin to this movie, the roller-coaster ride called life too has an uncanny art of disclosing the naked truth only when the time is ripe, irrespective of when, how and for whatsoever reason one is thrown in to a life-changing situation. And instead of confusing you, this screenplay slowly opens up new doors of perception as it progresses, adding hitherto unknown dimensions to both the characters and the story, unraveling one layer after another, finally culminating into a bizarre, yet profound climax that leaves us pondering about life, death, relationships and the deep rooted desire of mankind to desperately seek redemption in this lifetime.
Like the story’s tumultuous nature, director Alejandro González’s 21 GRAMS shakes your soul and stirs it too — all the way to redemption. Thoughts and ideas come at destroyed people in fragments. In the end the three disconnected souls come together and the truth is revealed to all.
Love, hate, revenge, death, and redemption drive the lives of Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. One fateful incident intertwines their lives, simultaneously delivering them to the brink of self-destruction and redemption. This is her crowning achievement so far. Although I heard FAIR GAME she was fantastic in. Here she is completely wrenching. When she plays her husbands last call on the answering machine with the girls little voices in the background, seconds before they are killed, is shattering stuff. Watch what she's doing on the kitchen floor. She's completely in it; the sounds and the way her body moves is captivating.  It's primitive.  Like a deer that just got hit by a semi-truck, watching the poor thing find it's way back on to it's hoofs on the asphalt - crawling back into the woods to die.  I can’t imagine how she was able to put this character to bed – it’s a performance that lingers and gets you in the middle of your gut – right below your heart. The part that hurts. 

1 comment:

  1. I think Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive is one of this generation's best performances, right up there with Amy Adams in Junebug. It's essential to understand the movie to appreciate her work: I hope you looked it up on wiki or one of many sites that spells out what the movie is really about, in case you still want to better understand (it's first 2/3 are a dream, last 1/3 a bitter reality.