My current Top 5

My current Top 5

3/19/2010

Best Actress 1965: Samantha Eggar in "The Collector"

After having won Best Actress in Cannes, Samantha Eggar received the only Oscar nomination of her career for her role in The Collector in which she played Miranda, a young woman who is kidnapped by an obsessed stalker.

The Collector is a two-character-piece (except some scenes when a neighbor appears) with an almost claustrophobic feeling because everything happens in the cellar room where Miranda is held or in the house where Freddie, her kidnapper, lives. So, it’s up to Samantha Eggar and Terence Stamp to carry this movie and grab the viewer’s attention for two hours. And both actors remarkably succeed in this.

The first time we see Miranda is through the eyes of her kidnapper. He follows her in his car and in these early scenes, Samantha Eggar shows Miranda as an apparently carefree and joyful young woman who studies art and whose pretty face seems to be a sure sign that she is also a very popular girl. At some moments, Miss Eggar seems to try to show something going on behind that cheerful face when she suddenly looks worried but this is never developed and everything about Miranda’s day-to-day life soon becomes unimportant when Freddie kidnaps her in his van and takes her to his lonely house in the English countryside. From now on, Samantha Eggar’s role demands from her to be the viewer’s eye and object of attention at the same time. The viewer is always on her side and experiences everything with her while at the same time wants to know what will happen to her.

Sometimes, Samantha Eggar suffers from the screenplay. In some ways, The Collector reminds one of those horror movies from the 90s where the viewer more than once wants to scream at the screen why the victim is behaving so stupidly. Of course, this is not the fault of the actress but Samantha Eggar is not always able to rise above the material.

But even though, there is no denying that Miss Eggar is incredibly effective in her part. She convincingly shows all the fear and terror on her face as she slowly starts to realize her own situation. At the beginning, Miranda realizes that she is kidnapped but it seems that she doesn’t really understand the seriousness of the situation yet which is only natural – the shock and the surprise of what has happened to her has paralyzed her. Only slowly, she begins to see that Freddie will probably not hold to his promise to let her go again. Samantha Eggar’s performance effectively shows how Miranda slowly changes in her prison cellar and how she starts to become a panicked and frightened soul.

So, while her performance begins rather average, it later helps to develop an always growing tension between her and Terence Stamp. Just like the viewer, Miranda slowly starts to learn more and more about her kidnapper – about his collection of butterflies, about his obsessions and she begins to realize that he will want to keep her, just like these dead butterflies. She sees that she is more like a trophy that he wants to own. When she says, more to herself than to him, that she won’t get out of this alive, it’s a shocking moment and Samantha Eggar’s surprised and at the same time hopeless line delivery is amazing.

But while Samantha Eggar portrays all the states of fear and desperation very convincingly, her character unfortunately never gets a chance to develop and for almost the entire running time, she has to step back and let Terence Stamp steal the show with his effortless and captivating performance of an evil, but enchanting man. I read that about one half of the book was cut for the movie version – the half that explored Miranda’s character and her back story. I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if it’s true but it is obvious that, in the movie, Miranda clearly misses a back story or something to deepen her character more. Unfortunately, she is mostly reduced to fear and desperation. As I said, Samantha Eggar plays this very well but it doesn’t allow her to ever widen the character. The Collector is a clear story with two opposite characters and it’s the task of the actors to show these differences and struggles of the characters. This roll allocation doesn’t allow any real development.

So, Samantha Eggar’s character never really lets her go beyond the tasks of the script but it is nevertheless a very effective and absorbing portrayal of a frightened woman. Like an animal in a cage, we watch how she tries to escape, we see how she goes through various psychological states of minds from refusal to acceptance to sympathy for her kidnapper and pure fear of death and she is also able to prevent her character from stepping too much into the background next to the diabolical work from Terrence Stamp.

For this, she gets

4 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Nice rating for her...probably be just a 4 for me though...I think that beginning ineffectiveness somewhat damages her overall.

Fritz said...

Sorry, I somehow uploaded the wrong rating!

Anonymous said...

This review is crap

Fritz said...

Thanks, valuable input is always appreciated! :D :D :D