Geena Davis is most certainly another member of the ‘I’m glad this actress has an Oscar but why did it have to be for this movie?’ club. She’s a very talented and underrated performer with a strong screen presence and brings almost all roles she plays to wonderful life – unfortunately, her Oscar-winning performance is the exception. In The Accidental Tourist, Geena Davis played Muriel Pritchett, a wacky dog trainer who falls in love with a grieving man at first sight and tries to get him out of his emotional hole.
The role of Muriel is a role the Oscars were made for. She gets a lot of screen time, stands as the emotional anchor of the movie, constantly brings the movie forwards and due to her eccentricities and unusual character stands out among the other, more conventional cast members. Unfortunately, Geena Davis missed most of these aspects of Muriel and that way what could have been a wonderful and lively performance became a rather standard, very often lifeless and confusing piece of work.
Another problem is that Geena Davis fails to make her character truly understandable. Does Muriel always chase the first guy that comes into her shop? We never learn why she is so fascinated by Macon. In the end, she seems more like a stalker than anything else (when she invites him for dinner, she looks at him with such big eyes and a crazy look that you have to wonder if she will eat with Macon or if he will be the main entrance). So, her attempts to cheer Macon up become rather annoying after a while and because of that you also don’t understand why Macon would fall for her.
Well, all this sounded very negative and Geena Davis also used to have a lower position in this ranking – so why did I upgrade her? Well, even though she isn’t the breath of fresh air this boring movie would have needed, she is still the best thing about it. It may be frustrating to watch her misinterpretation of the character but she is still very charming – simply on a lower level than could have been possible. And while I think that she does not use her comedy very wisely, she is still extremely strong in the more dramatic parts of her performance. Her best is when she doesn’t say anything and simply listens to Macon explaining his grief. The look on her face is wonderful and finally, she gets a chance to explain that there is much more underneath her strange cloths and that Muriel possesses a true inner strength. Geena Davis is also excellent when Muriel and Macon have a fight and she yells at him ‘You are so selfish! You are so self-centered! You have all these fancy reasons for never doing a single thing I want!’.
So, I think the biggest disappointment in this performance is that Geena Davis could have been excellent but only settles for competent. But on this lower level, she still does some enchanting and memorable work.