It seems to be a well-known fact that Tatum O’Neal’s performance is the result of clever directing and shooting scenes up to 70 times until she got it right. But as I already mentioned in my review for Anna Paquin, it’s the result that matters. And the result is one of the funniest, most original and captivating performances ever to hit the screen.
Another aspect that won’t be considered here it the obvious category fraud – Tatum O’Neal is in 99% of the movie her being in the supporting category would be like putting Vivien Leigh in the supporting category for Gone with the Wind. But I only want to judge the performance itself and because of that I don’t want to care about the placement.
I could be very easy to dismiss Tatum O’Neal’s work – just like Helen Hayes in Airport gets most laughs out of the fact that she is a little old lady acting so – unlike a little old day, Tatum O’Neal gets a lot of laughs by acting like an adult when she is only a little girl. But Tatum O’Neal certainly does much more – she does not act like an adult but she plays precisely what Addie is, a little girl who is wise beyond her years and knows how to play the games better than the grown-ups do. She isn’t given any of that ‘precious’ dialogue that so many juvenile characters get these days but instead talks like a little girl is supposed to talk, only always with her own hidden agenda. And all this makes her performance a perfectly entertaining combination of her personality and her acting.
Tatum O’Neal’s chemistry with her father is excellent and their constant arguments in the car are comedic gold. But so many other scenes are fantastic, too – Tatum O’Neal created such a little ‘brat’ that every time she acts cute or cries for the purpose of another fraud, she is absolutely delightful. And her scenes in the hotel are maybe the best. When she wants to trick that guy into going up to Miss Trixie’s room and she tells him ‘You won’t be sorry’ with a you-know-what-I-mean-look.
It’s an incredible grown-up performance, Addie is a real three-dimensional person, particularly at the end when Moses brings her to her aunt and Tatum O’Neal’s perfectly shows how much she is going to miss him.
Overall, it’s certainly one of the most original performances and characters this category has to offer.