Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Performances I Love: Laura Linney in Mystic River

By Sati. Wednesday, September 12, 2012 , ,
Today I'm launching new feature - Performances I Love. There are many times when when I love a movie it's because of the certain performances or characters that for some reason stayed with me. It's also true for bad and average films - sometimes they feature acting so good in even only few scenes, mostly because of one particular actor, that it redeems the whole movie. Whatever the quality of the film, good or bad, the performances of highest quality can be found everywhere. And many of such amazing roles are often times underrated and overlooked.

The first performance I love which I like to show cast is also my entry for ruth's genius blogathon - Small Roles, Big Performances. It's Laura Linney's work in Clint Eastwood's Mystic River where she stared as Sean Penn's character's wife -  Annabeth Markum.

There are many great performances in the movie but it's Linney who I remember best - it's because for most of the movie her character is somewhat hidden. We see her being upset about the death of her stepdaughter, we see her supporting her husband Jimmy and we see her being strong and at times eerily calm. It's obvious family is most important to this woman but there is also something detached and calculating about her.
It's not until the last part of the movie that wee see that Annabeth is a manipulator and has very few scruples. When Jimmy tells her what he did, she doesn't panic, yell or feel remorse. She is glad what happened, happened. From her lack of shock one can only assume this isn't the first time Jimmy did something like this when they were married. Then she proceeds to reassure him that what he did was right, that her and his daughters love and depend on him and that he is "the king". It's obvious she is hungry for power and can't wait for Jimmy to rule the town.

"Their daddy's a king. And a king knows what to do and *does* it. Even when it's hard. And their daddy will do whatever he has to for those he loves. And that's all that matters. Because everyone is weak, Jimmy. Everyone but us. We will never be weak. And you, you could rule this town. And after Jimmy, let's take the girls down to the parade. Katie would like that."
She is also cruel in what she does to her own cousin - Celeste. She seems repulsed by the fact Celeste shared her concerns with Jimmy, repulsed at the idea that a wife could betray her husband like that. During the parade, Annabeth looks at desperate and confused Celeste not even changing the smile she has on the face because she knows she won. She looks away, leaving her cousin out of the circle of family, simply forgetting about what happened to Celeste and moving on.

It's very refreshing to see a character like that. Many times in movies when a wife or a girlfriend of a gangster fins out what he did she freaks out, yells, acts innocent. Here we have fierce and unmoved Annabeth and one can only wonder - would Jimmy be the way he is now without her? Would he commit crimes without his wife's encouragement? What if she is the one pulling the strings?

Mystic River is a drama and crime mystery but it also works as part of origin story - of a gangster who is rising in crime world and has support of his wife, who almost like Lady Macbeth whispers words of poison into his ear, making him more ambitious, encouraged and ruthless by convincing him the crimes he commits are the right thing to do.
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33 comments:

  1. Yes! She's so cold at the end of this. Great performance.

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    1. Such a fantastic actress too, love her!

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  2. Mystic River is one powerful film, and like you said, has some pretty intense performances, but I was NOT expecting the wife to be cold, greedy and cruel. Excellent work Sati, and this is a great feature.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yep, I was quite shocked too, didn't see that coming at all.

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  3. She was really amazing in that movie. You reminded me how much I really need to rewatch it.

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  4. Great post! I forgot she was even in Mystic River. Haven't seen it in years, so I need to rewatch it in the near future.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, her role isn't big comparing to others but she was really fascinating to me.

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  5. Awesome Sati, I look forward to more from your series. I'll definitely include this in my blog-a-thon, thanks for the link love, I'll send a reminder in a week or so.

    I LOVE Laura Linney but I haven't got around to seeing this movie. I have to rectify that situation soon!

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    1. Thank you! You should definetly see it, while it's not one of the greatest of all time it has really wonderful acting in it and pretty good crime mystery going on.

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  6. Such a great film filled with super performances.. nice spotlight my friend

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  7. I've never seen this, but I do love Laura Linney! She'll get her Oscar at somepoint...hopefully.

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    1. Oh, she definetly will, such an amazing actress! You should definetly check out the movie!

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  8. Great highlight and new feature Sati. She's a wonderful actress. The Truman Show is probably my favourite of hers.

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    1. Thank you! Oh, she was so amazing in Truman Show, my favorite role in that film right after Carrey.

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  9. I haven't seen this movie, but she is a terrific actress. I've never seen her in a role I didn't like.

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    1. You should check out this one, it's really good and the cast is amazing!

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  10. She is a really good actress. I have seen about 3/4 of this movie and really need to watch the final movements.

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    1. You should finish it, the end is probably the best part!

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  11. I've found it interesting that so many people hate on Linney's work in this movie. I guess they can't get behind the Lady Macbeth switch. But I think that's crazy; her work here is ingenious. Great write-up!

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    1. Thanks!
      I occasionally don't like Eastwood's direction but he directed Linney flawlessly here - the way she doesn't really get a chance to show us her full character until the last moments. That whole reveal with her speech really added new level to the movie for me.

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  12. Really? This is actually one of my least favorite of Linney's performances, but I think that's mostly because I'm a Boston native and her Boston accent really irritates me. I guess I'll have to go back and watch it without my Boston bias ;)

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    1. Well, I never been in Boston so I have no idea about the accent :) But I can see how it could be annoying.

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  13. I completely agree. I had felt she was kind of wasted in this film until it finally got to that scene. I call it her "Lady Macbeth" scene. She just nails it.

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    1. She was terrific indeed. Very nice casting decision right there.

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  14. A great actress to highlight. I often think Laura Linney is under appreciated but then I think she actually takes good quality roles and rarely sells out for the big paycheck. So most of the time we find her in these smaller roles, in less mainstream films and she's invariably superb. Thought she was great in Man of the Year, and she made The Exorcism of Emily Rose far more watchable than it should have been.

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    1. Oh, she was the best thing about The Exorcism of Emily Rose for sure! I never seen her give a bad performance, she really is amazing. I hope there is a flood of awards waiting for her in the future.

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  15. Getting ready to do a post for this one and checking out what everyone else has put up.

    Gonna say this about this one Sati.

    This is a BAD ASS choice. (Slow nod)

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    1. Thank you, I was going for "bad ass" with this one! :)

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  16. Just watched Mystic River. Especially focusing on Linney this time because I remembered reading this. She is among the many twists in this movie because the focus is never on her until the very end.. Then she turns her husband's remorse into victory and everything is rather disturbing. Amazing movie, one of my all time favorites!

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    1. Awesome that you liked it! I'm not that big of a fan of the movie itself but the performances, especially Linney and Kevin Bacon's were fantastic.

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  17. Her Character was able to 'step up' her power and influence over her husband after her adult step daughter was out of the picture. She was a Daddys' girl and left an obvious vacuum in his life. She moved to fill it and the subtext was to elevate his remaining daughters status while she was at it. Brilliant.
    Gangsterism aside, her devotion and support of husband moves me.

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