My current Top 5

My current Top 5

3/17/2010

Best Actress 1965: Elizabeth Hartman in "A Patch of Blue"

Elizabeth Hartman received her only Oscar nomination for her film debut in A Patch of Blue. In this modern fairly tale, she plays a young, innocent and uneducated blind girl who is tortured by her abusive mother but finds love and happiness with a man she meets in the park – not knowing that he is black.

As I said, this movie is like a fairy tale with Shelley Winters as the evil mother, Sidney Poitier as the knight in shining armor and Elizabeth Hartman as the innocent princess who must be rescued.

A Patch of Blue is a very moving and unforgettable story which couldn’t succeed without the central performance from Elizabeth Hartman. In the role of Selina, her biggest challenge is to actually make the audience believe that a character like her could really exist. Selina is a girl who was never taught much, who has to live with an abusive mother who beats her every day but at the same time there is something optimistic and joyful about her. She doesn’t know any other world than her own – she has no idea what life outside of the little apartment she lives in has to offer and so he has adjusted herself to her life.

Elizabeth Hartman gives a wonderfully simple performance that illuminates the simple character she is playing at every second. She avoids any grand gestures and emotions and instead gives an honest and emotionally captivating performance that turns Selina into one of the most tragic and at the same time uplifting characters of all time which is a remarkable feat.

The core of the movie is the relationship between Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman. Both actors share a wonderful chemistry that is an innocent love and deep understanding. Selina doesn’t know that Gordon is black, she only knows that he is a good man and that she can trust him. She is such a childlike character that she simply needs someone to guide her, to show her the way since her own family will never do that. The way Elizabeth Hartman instinctively touches her hair when she thinks that Gordon is coming is a wonderfully honest moment that is impossible to forget.

Elizabeth Hartman has so much to do in this movie and she does it without ever overdoing it. It’s an incredibly subtle performance and the biggest miracle is how believable she is in this almost unbelievable part. In the hands of a lesser actress, a lot of moments could have made the viewer roll their eyes because Selina is so impossible naïve sometimes but Elizabeth Hartman is so honest and real in her interpretation that Selina becomes incredibly captivating.
The scene when she is telling Gordon that she was raped by a friend of a mother in a total matter-of-fact way and later her regret that she can’t be a virgin for Gordon is another moment that is incredibly shocking but not only because of the situation itself but also because Selina doesn’t even seem to understand what she is saying. Elizabeth Hartman is heartbreaking in these moments without ever emphasizing the situation.

Besides giving a wonderful performance of a difficult character, Elizabeth Hartman also plays various difficult and also hard to pull off-scenes amazingly. Her fear when she is alone in the park and a thunderstorm comes, her breakdown in the apartment when all her anger and frustration are let out or the first time when she dares to speak against her mother – this is all done wonderfully and Elizabeth Hartman turns Selina into a character that’s impossible not to root for.

Also the technical aspects of the performance are done very convincingly and naturally. At every moment of the movie, Elizabeth Hartman is convincing as a blind girl. But she never draws any attention to Selina’s blindness – instead, she shows that this is a simple part of her character that Selina has gotten used to a long time ago. She has arranged herself with the situation and accepts it.

It’s a performance that takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster ride – Elizabeth Hartman is able to break and warm your heart almost at the same time and she gives an incredibly effective and realistic performance in this modern fairy tale. For this, she gets

4 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

And the winner is....

Fritz said...

Well, there's still one more! :-)

Sage Slowdive said...

I am actually really happy Hartman got a great rating...I really liked her too...but, for me, this year is all Julie...Christie.

joe burns said...

Great writeup! But I haven't seen this yet though. I have no doubt though that Julie Andrews will be still be my pick.