Monday, 24 February 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1992: Samuel West in Howard's End

Samuel West did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Bafta, for portraying Leonard Bast in Howard's End.

Howard's End is a very fine adaptation of the novel which tells the story of three families through the exchanging of a house Howard's End that goes from person to person.

Each of the families in Howard's End represents a different class of Edwardian England. The Wilcox family being the very wealthy upper class, the Schlegel sisters being the bourgeoisie, and Bast being the lower class. Of course it is a relative lower class for Bast as he is a white collar lower class still as he does not look poor when you look right at him, but unlike those above him money seems to be an actual concern for him. West plays Bast very much in the appropriate style that most of the actors employ. The style being firmly in that Edwardian bent where emotions are to be very specifically expressed, and even when one's emotions become more volatile it's still to be done in a fairly repressed way that still must keep one's proper manner intact at all times.

The Edwardian confines are an interesting challenge for any actor because it is up to them to not simply be dull in his portraying this particular style of person, and as well attempt to see what they can do below the surface with the work. West technically gets a little more wiggle room with Bast as he is one of the more emotional characters, although still not that emotional. West definitely is good in coming up with that Edwardian reserve as he always seems at least slightly constrained in some way, as a good Edwardian should even though he is technically an emotional fellow. West is effective in always keeping that a mostly proper stance, and when there is something for him to be a little more emotional about West is effective in stressing a stronger intensity in these moments to basically show a strong repression.

Bast comes in and out of the film usually being roped along by the whims of the the Schlegel sisters who think they are helping Bast, but he continually finds himself off in slowly worse circumstances. There are few moments where Bast takes exception with them but they are played as very Edwardian by West which certainly is the way they should be played. For the most part though West plays Bast as a man who just is slowly getting more and more depressed over his situation. He plays it as a particularly inward bound depression as he just seems to sunken from the inside. This does not change even when he has an affair with one of the sisters as the film seems to play it that she does this in part because of his rather miserable state both financially and emotionally.

 West handles his dissolution of the man well enough to even the point that his sudden exit at the end of the film can even be believed rather easily. West's work here is a good performance which firmly stands within the realm of the Edwardian culture. I don't see this as a particularly great performance though as he never quite stands out really all that much with his performance. It's a good enough performance in that I have no real complaints and he definitely gets across exactly what should be gotten across in regards to Bast as a character. It's fine work but just fine. There is perhaps there could have been ground gained with the character it is hard to say, but either way I find that his performance is more than adequate but also pretty easy to forget.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you please do 1986 next?

luke higham said...

Ratings & Thoughts for the rest of the cast.

Louis Morgan said...

Thompson 4.5(Captures very deftly the right tone for her character with the right hidden satire along with being completely appropriate to the setting and tone of the film)

Hopkins 3.5(Somewhat limited role but Hopkins is enjoyable in playing the foolishness of his character)
Anonymous: 86 probably will be the next from that decade but I have some other decades to attend to first.

Luke:

Carter 3(She's there alright, but I never felt she made much of an impact)

Redgrave 3(I don't think any actor has to do less than Redgrave for people to go gaga for her. I mean she's fine her in portraying her dying character filled with nostalgia, but there just isn't that much to her performance)

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what did you think of Cowboys & Aliens, as well as the performances of Ford and Craig?

Michael McCarthy said...

Louis, what's your favorite Emma Thompson performance? I thought she was remarkable in Sense and Sensibility.

Michael Patison said...

I absolutely love this movie and am disappointed you didn't like West more. I'd give the following:
Thompson-5 (my win)
Bonham Carter-5 (my win)
Hopkins-3 (I thought he was enjoyable enough but failed to make his transition believable enough)
West-4.5
Redgrave-3 (I happen to agree with you here, Louis, as I've never understood the big to do about her)

Louis Morgan said...

Matt: The film I felt was rather painfully adequate. It was alright but just never really excelled in anyway, also when Favreau tried to get fancy he failed miserably.

Craig was okay enough but not particularly interesting. I was surprised by Ford as he actually gave an invested performance, therefore he was pretty good.

Michael: It's probably this.

Maciej said...

Am I the only one who seems to hate all the movies by Merchant & Ivory and find them incredibly boring, repetitive and dull?

The only exception is "The Remains of the Day", but the rest... ugh!

Michael McCarthy said...

I thought Daniel Craig was awful in Cowboys & Aliens, all he did was make angry faces and punch people.

Random side note, my top 5 films for this year:

1. Unforgiven
2. The Player
3. The Crying Game
4. Reservoir Dogs
5. Howards End

Michael Patison said...

Maciej: I've only seen 3, A Room with a View, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day. I must say that ARWAV is pretty boring a lot of the time, but that I thought Maggie Smith was great and Daniel Day-Lewis was an absolute hoot. I obviously love this one and think that, while certainly long, it never overstays its welcome. I also really like The Remains of the Day, though it pales in comparison to the novel (my favorite novel). I guess I'd have to say no, though watching any of their less celebrated could easily sway my opinion.

Michael Patison said...

My top 5 for the year would be (I haven't seen Reservoir Dogs. Shoot me.):
1. Howards End
2. Unforgiven
3. The Player
4. Glengarry Glen Ross
5. My Cousin Vinny

Maciej said...

Michael Patison: Though we disagree about the movies, it's great to see another fan of the novel by Ishiguro! It's also one of my top books I've read in my life.