Monday, 8 October 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1985: Danny Glover in The Color Purple

Danny Glover did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mister Albert Johnson in The Color Purple. 

The Color Purple is a film about the trials of a young African American woman Celie (Whoopi Goldberg).

To say the men depicted in The Color Purple are cruel would probably be a bit of an understatement. Most of the men depicted are easily angered individuals not opposed to severely beating women or raping them without hesitation. They are creeps, and Glover gets the biggest role of the creeps as the man who basically buys Celie for a wife that he wants to merely take care of his house, and keep his kids in line. Mister, as he is referred to, is not a nice man and that is the way Glover portrays him without really trying to make any silver lining to the character.

Almost all of his scenes with Goldberg Glover portrays Mister in really one of two ways. One is the more explosively violent abusive side of Mister as he constantly yells at her, hits her if  he so chooses, and does not take a second thought about the whole affair. Glover certainly is blunt and unapologetic as Mister who brings the brutality of Mister to life fairly well. I would say his other way though is perhaps just as brutal which is when he not being as openly hostile.

When he is not being hostile though Glover plays it as though Mister barely recognizes her as a person. Glover has Mister barely look at her or acknowledge her in anyway even during sex, which he does well in showing that Mister does not really see Celie as anything to him. In these moments when Mister notices her at all he only acts in a quick violent manner to get her to do something for her. Glover is actually quite good in portraying that no matter what if Mister is not directly abusing her, he is always ready to.

There is another side to Mister also seen that is not really much better than his violently abusive side which instead is a constantly lustful side. Here really is where one would maybe expect a little more depth from Glover's performance as he lusts after women, but really it is pretty much on the surface again. There is not anything special about him here he just wants the women he wants and tries to smile into his way to get them where he wants them. The fact that his charm is really a joke is actually a fine enough way to portray Mister, but never makes him particularly interesting.

One of the underlying ideas in this film is the way the abused can easily become abusers themselves. Mister himself his abused by his father verbally in one scene, and Glover is rather effective in this scene showing Mister as the one without the power for once. Glover handles it well by losing all of his intensity of before in this scene and almost seeming to become a child in this scene as Mister becomes shy and filled with hesitations to say anything to his father's angry attacks against him.

Mister though is a fairly repetitive character as he stays abusive until near the end of the film after Celie leaves him, and he becomes a pathetic mess of a man. Again Glover could have the chance for to really make a great impression with his performance, but really he stays fine in the part. His final scenes Glover portrays it as less of a transformation for Mister, but more him becoming that shy child again without power, who know might as well do something right since he no longer has the power to do something wrong.

To be perfectly fair to Danny Glover as written Mister Albert Johnson is a pretty thin character, and he mostly is there to be the terrible force that Celie wants to get away from. Glover actually is fine in being brutal, and intense in a believable fashion as it would have been really easy to go way too over the top with this character. This never becomes a particularly fascinating sort of characterization and as the story wants it Mister is always overshadowed by the female characters, and Glover is overshadowed by the female performances.

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