My current Top 5

My current Top 5

3/26/2010

Best Actress 1978: Geraldine Page in "Interiors"

Geraldine Page’s role as interior decorator Eve in Interior, Woody Allen’s homage to Ingmar Bergman, is another of those borderline cases where both the Supporting and the Leading category would have made sense. Had Geraldine Page entered the Supporting category, she probably might have won (just as she did at the BAFTAs) but so she had to settle for a nomination.

Geraldine Page is very famous for being an actress full of tics and manners and these features worked very well in her performance as Eve who is a neurotic mess. Eve is a woman who is just as sterile and cold as the designs she uses to decorate other people’s homes. Even though the role of Eve is not very large, she is still a very overpowering presence in the movie since almost all the talk and conversations of all the other characters (mainly Eve’s two daughters) is about her. That way the viewer learns more about Eve by other characters than by Eve herself.

At the beginning the viewer sees Eve for the first time when she is visiting her daughter and her son-in-law whose apartment she decorates. Eve seems very stressed, uneasy and tense. It seems that she can’t make up her own mind about what she wants. And it becomes very clear that she is a woman who needs control over everything. When she finds out that her son-in-law moved a lamp that she bought for the bedroom and put it in the living room, the idea seems unbearable for her. Eve is a woman who needs control, who must be in charge and who can’t stand the thought of being unable to influence any situations.

By flashbacks the story tells the viewer that Eve’s world collapsed when her husband suddenly left her. Eve takes this news with a combination of denial and rejection. When her own daughter describes her mother as ‘a sick woman’, the viewer begins to see her in a different light. Suddenly it becomes clear that her cold emotions and her obsessions show a woman always on the edge of a nervous breakdown. She actually already tried to kill herself once and she prepared her flat to fill it with gas just with the same precision as she would think of interior designs. But even after her suicide attempt, she did not change herself and thinks that her husband will return to her in the end. Geraldine Page’s acting when she receives a get-well-card and flowers from her husband is magnificent and shows a woman who is unable to show any emotion while she is filled with false hope at the same time .

Geraldine Page’s acting effectively points out all of Eve’s characteristics. Her major decision was to play Eve with a constant masque-like face that perfectly underlines her distance and coldness to everyone around her. Geraldine shows Eve as a woman who is unable to be emotional and whose mind breaks when her own world, which she wants to be as perfect and organized as her own designs, falls apart. The highlight of her performance is certainly the scene in the church when her husband tells her that he wants to finalize their separation with a divorce. Geraldine Page’s face shows terror and devastation while showing nothing at all. Her face is again like a masque but Geraldine Page expresses an enormous amount of feelings at the same time. Slowly, her masque begins to drop until Eve finally shouts out her anger and desolation. Geraldine Page’s tics and manners are all visible and her performance constantly feels very calculated but it all works for the character of Eve.

Geraldine Page as Eve also succeeds in making her character the exact opposite of Pearl, her husband’s second wife. Pearl, played by the wonderful Maureen Stapleton, is full of life, open and a real fresh of breath air in a family that is forever influenced by an overbearing and unstable mother.

Even though her screen time is limited, Geraldine Page still dominates the whole movie as a woman who loses control and is not able to deal with the failure of her own marriage, who is terrified of a new life alone. It’s a convincing, shocking, frightening and sad portrayal that gets

2 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Hmmm, looks like Ingrid takes it this year.

joe burns said...

To me, this is three stars. It's a clearly a Supporting performance and even with that, it's an underwritten part to begin with. Good job with some parts, but her role was too small. I was disappointed by Interiors, except for Diane Keaton and Mary Beth Hurt's performances.