Thursday, January 24, 2008

TRIBUTE. Heath Ledger was a very good actor and I'm sorry he's gone. Looking back, I see that in my review of Brokeback Mountain I didn't speak on his performance. His vocal characterization reminded me, strangely, of Brian Keith in another movie with a gay theme, Reflections in a Golden Eye, when his Langdon was drunkenly muttering about the departed Anacleto. Langdon was openly contemptuous of the houseboy's feminine manner, but in his cups -- and in the presence of his good buddy and screamingly obvious closet case Penderton -- he rumbled and mumbled and moped over Anacleto's "dancin' on his toes."

Keith's Langdon was wrestling with man-attraction, though at a remove; Ledger's Ennis had no remove. He was simple, and love took him like a plague. The way Ledger played him, I got the feeling that if Ennis had loved a woman instead life would still have been hard for him, but loving Jack made it impossible. Still, he had love and kept it, and though his eyes receded they never became angry, watchful slits that dared the world away; they were warm and full of hurt and confusion, and even attracted affection, disastrously. A large part of the sorrow of watching the movie is expecting Ennis to adapt and realizing that he can't.

The words and directing carry a lot but it's the acting that makes the sale. Actors don't just portray, they also imagine, and under any great performance is always a humane conception that makes the display of skill worth attending. Whatever pain was particular to Heath Ledger, on screen the pain was all Ennis'. We should be grateful to have this fine example of the player's art by which to remember him.

No comments:

Post a Comment