Saturday, 29 January 2011

Best Actor 1979: Jack Lemmon in The China Syndrome

Jack Lemmon received his sixth Oscar nomination for portraying Jack Godell in The China Syndrome.

The China Syndrome is not a great film, as it is message is heavy handed at times, but it does make for a fairly effective thriller at end.

Jack Lemmon portrays Jack Goddell who is one of the main supervisor who works at a Nuclear power plant. He is first introduced in the film when the plant has what seems to be a minor problem, and he appears to help deal with it. Slowly the problem escalates into a full threat to the entire plant. Lemmon gives a terrific performance in this opening scene, as he goes from taking care of business as usual, but slowly begins to freak out as he sees the problem becoming worse. Lemmon's performance is excellent here because it exemplifies the escalation  of the problem with his emotional disintegration.

After his rather strong opening scene Lemmon comes in and out of the film, as he at first takes his company's stand on the incident which is to pretend that almost nothing really happened, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the plant itself. Lemmon is very strong in a moment where he has to lie to a news reporter (Jane Fonda). Lemmon is very strong in showy the facade he puts on but with the clear indication that he really knows he is lying and that he knows there is in fact something very wrong with the plant.

Slowly though he soon finds out that the plant has serious problems which the officials of the plant know. Lemmon presents Godell growing frustrations brilliantly since he shows the frustrations effect him very deeply, since it basically challenges his own life's work. This leads to a climatic scene where he tries to get the truth out about the plant rather dramatically by taken command of the central control room. Lemmon is absolutely terrific in these moments as attempts to control the situation to get the word out, but also starts to break down due to all of the pressure around him. His last moment in which he freaks out at the end very end is chilling due to Lemmon. Lemmon gives a strong realistic performance which succeeds in properly amplifying emotional strength of the film by really becoming the soul of the film.


Anonymous said...

Sort of my feelings with All That Jazz, I was shocked at how negatively I reacted to Lemmon's performance.

Anonymous said...

Yes! One of my favourite performances by Jack Lemmon, he's number 2 for me! Can't wait for Sellers! Great review!

dinasztie said...

I LOVED this performance. I guess Hoffman's winning with you.