Monday, 25 October 2010

Best Actor 2006: Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond

Leonardo DiCaprio received his third Oscar nomination for portraying a white mercenary born in Rhodesia in Blood Diamond.

I am not sure what to make out of Blood Diamond, like many of Edward Zwick films, it certainly has a story that moves along, and good action scenes, yet his morals many times seem heavy handed, forced, or inappropriate simply due to how most of the film is directed.

Leonardo DiCaprio in this plays a diamond smuggling opportunist mercenary, who is a White Africa, therefore he has a white African accent. I will say his accent was a little distracting the first time I watched the film, but I felt it worked well enough this time, so I really I just needed to get use to it. In many ways this performance type of performance is the type of leading man performance that is nominated less and less these days. Although there is much of the past, and conflict in his performance, much of the purpose of his performance is to be able to follow through Africa during a very extreme and brutal conflict. As that sort of performance in its simplest form Leonardo DiCaprio excel greatly with his performance. He is certainly a man who easy to follow throughout the film. His screen presence is always strong in the same vein as the best leading men of the big screen. This ability to be almost a perfect tour guide through the film for the audience is usually underrated but to do it truly well as DiCaprio does here is an achievement.

This not a simple leading man performance though, since Archer is not all that simple of character.  He is not exactly a "good guy" at the beginning and at first mostly aims all his actions for his own benefit. Archer though soon to get a rare diamond, partners with a black African Solomon (Djmon Honsou) who is searching for his family amidst the violent civil war. DiCaprio does a very good job in showing Archer as a man who is very much energized to get the diamond, and possibly get out of Africa, but at the same time he shows a little bit different side of the character. He also shows a man who is tired of doing this, but that does not at all discourage his search for the diamond. He establishes Archer's history, his history with Africa, and the life he lives, perfectly, but incredibly carefully, never fully pushing Archer's history to the forefront but always carefully suggesting it. As the two men journey Archer does grow as a better person, and DiCaprio handles this transition well without over doing it. He leads it to his final scene where Archer becomes a truly noble man. This works incredibly well because in his last scene DiCaprio simply is fantastic, and gives an absolutely brilliant end to his performance.

DiCaprio's performance is not perfect but that almost entirely comes from the problems in the script. DiCaprio just plainly has some very poorly written lines to say, such lines as in America its bling, bling, but here it is bling, bang. I mean what are you suppose to do with a line like that anyways. DiCaprio does his best but it certainly hinders his performance a little bit. Also there are lines that are strange for the character that just seem wrong for the character such as when Archer calls Solomon a "Kaffir". It just seemed wrong in more ways than one for Archer to say that, DiCaprio tries his best to work, but it is impossible to fully compensate for such a poorly written scene. Another weakness caused by the film is the romance with the American Photojournalist (Jennifer Connelly). The romance always seems a little forced and again DiCaprio tries his best, but cannot fully get around the weakness of the script. Despite these flaws resulting from the script, DiCaprio still gives a strong leading man performance, that smartly adds complexity when it can and when it makes sense to.

3 comments:

dinasztie said...

I'm so unfamiliar with this year. Did you like Leo in Shutter Island? Or have you seen it for that matter? I think SI was just brilliant.

Louis Morgan said...

I thought he was good in Shutter Island.

Sage Slowdive said...

I agree - really surprisingly great performance.