Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Best Actor 1973: Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris

Marlon Brando received his seventh Oscar nomination for portraying Paul in Last Tango in Paris.

Last Tango in Paris is about an affair between a young Parisian and an older American who have a liaison with no names, and no conditions, for awhile at least.

Marlon Brando performance in this film certainly has a reputation that proceeds. I have heard from many sources touting this as not only Brando's best performance, but also one of if not the best performance ever. Well I must say that certainly does automatically effect your preconceptions but it should not define your conception of the performance, and it certainly does not define mine. It is a common criticism of various accolades given to the most of something rather than the actual best, well I think that can actually be allotted to this performance by Marlon Brando, since if there is one thing for sure this is one acting performance. The whole character is constantly doing something that is extremely dramatic psychological, crazy, whatever, this character never seems to stop baring his soul, and is almost the polar opposite of Jack Nicholson's nominated character from this year.

Brando most normal scenes, I think, come early in the film where he shows the grief over his wife's recent suicide. Brando I think is extremely good in this portrayal of grief, because he shows clearly that this has deeply wounded Paul that has pained him right into the emotional core, and his this portrayal of grief does a fairly well establish the mental state of his character, and partially explain his course of action in the film. Paul decides to start a liaison with a Parisian woman Jeanne (Maria Schneider), the relationship does not have much of a pick up scene though, since they really just begin the affair immediately with no strings attached, and not too much of an explanation either. They do, which means it is time for Brando to act, and act a lot, with deep soul searching not stop.

Now although I did see as fairly actory, I still feel he manages in the character of Paul somewhat, not just of Marlon Brando himself. My only real problem was though I think he does indeed portray an original character, I don't think he really completely understands who Paul is suppose to be precisely. Brando supposedly said he did not understand the point of the film, and I did feel some of that come through with his performance, in that I felt he had great scenes, but they did not fit into an amazing whole. I never truly understood, although I do not think I was really suppose to, why he would react to his grief in this specific and rather odd way. Nor did I understand where this man came from, and why frankly his behavior was as erratic as it was, particularly when he became sadistic. Now part of his character is suppose to be a mystery really, but what I did see I felt was many parts of a character, but still missing something that melded the whole of him as one.

This not to say Brando does not have some exceedingly fascinating scenes, and moments. Whether it is his scene where he talks dirty, his scene where he tells about how he learned to love nature, the butter scene, his crazed antics on the dance floor, his big scene next to his wife's dead body, Brando certainly is interesting to watch, and does make a great amount of interesting moments. But I always felt they were just that interesting, not amazing. The whole performance for me was most certainly a spectacle to watch, as Brando never stops doing something different in the role, but I must admit I did not feel it turned out to be a perfect performance, and I always far from the greatest performance of all time. In fact I did not even feel it was great, but rather just interesting. It is interesting to view, but not incredible to view, it just always feels as a performance that is less than the sum of its parts.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought the crying scene with his wife's body was awful, overacted, and really just terrible and it brought down the performance for me, but he almost made it up with his dying scene at the end, his facial expression as he's walking to the balcony was just perfect. Probably 3 Jacks from me.

RatedRStar said...

Well I said it would be a surprise if he won because I always found this performance and the film extremely odd.

dinasztie said...

He overdid this one.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean?

dshultz said...

Hurm. I always liked this one. He's properly perverted.

Anonymous said...

People really think this is better than his performances in On The Waterfront or The Godfather?

Louis Morgan said...

Well yes I have heard, and read many people describe this as his best.

hey deanie said...

It's a masterpiece of a performance.

RatedRStar said...

I know its been a while but what did you make of this film Louis because im curious as some critics have made comparisons with this and Shame which I loved.

Louis Morgan said...

Well I feel about it the same way I feel about Brando's performance. It has its moments, but it is not the masterpiece it is often described as.