Friday, 25 October 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1971: Fernando Rey in The French Connection

Fernando Rey did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alain Charnier in The French Connection.

The French Connection did receive a supporting actor nomination for Roy Scheider's fine work as the partner of Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman). Fernando Rey though was not nominated for his performance as the film's villain the Frenchman Alain Charnier who intends to smuggle a large amount of heroine and sell to a New York criminal. Fernando Rey though is given a small story of his own as the film depicts Charnier set up his plan to exchange the heroine. These scenes are relatively short but uses them well to allude to Charnier's nature. Rey carries himself well and in doing so creates Charnier as an astute, seasoned, and above all high class sort of criminal who wears his profession below the surface unlike his New York counterpart.

Aside from the scenes of him setting up the deal this is mostly a silent performance by Alan Charnier in all of the scenes where Popeye is trying to follow him and keep him in sight. In this part of his performance Fernando Rey is excellent in being the adversary to Hackman's Doyle. In Hackman's performance all the frustrations and the effort of a hard boiled cop, Rey acts as the perfect foil to Hackman's performance as he shows Charnier doing everything to escape Doyle's pursuit while he stays completely calm cool and collected. When the two play the game on the cat and mouse is a great scene but it is made even more memorable by Rey and Hackman's performance. The scene's end is unforgettable as we see the angry Doyle lose Charnier, and Rey's brilliantly smug face as Charnier waves goodbye to Popeye.

Rey is pretty consistent in his performance until the very end of the film when Charnier himself has to deliver the drugs rather then use his patsy friend. Rey is again silent in these scenes and is very good in showing the manner in Charnier change to reflect his grievousness and indicate that handling the deal is clearly the last thing that he ever wanted to do. The best moment comes when the tables have turned with Popeye and Charnier changing places from the subway scene with now Popeye being the one giving the wave. Rey makes the moment extremely satisfying because he shows all the confidence drain right out Charnier face. This is a relatively simple role but one that Fernando Rey handles well with his very assured performance. Rey without much screen time hints at who this man is but more importantly to the film as whole makes Frog one the elusive mystery that you do want to see Popeye catch.


RatedRStar said...

I'm I only person who found the ending generally quite creepy, like the music during the credits, I love that he gets away, too many films the villain always get beat, not this time lol.

Lezlie said...

No, I thought it was just me who was creeped out by it :P