Monday, 7 April 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Raul Julia in The Morning After

Raul Julia did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Joaquin "Jackie" Manero in The Morning After.

The Morning After is an awful film about an alcoholic actress Alex (Jane Fonda) who finds a murdered man in her bed one morning. Sidney Lumet does a terrible job directing it keeping it tonally inconsistent and making some of the oddest music choices ever seen in a mainstream film. It does not help that the two main characters are not interesting, and I have to admit I found Fonda's drunk scenes to be pretty terrible. As for the quality of the central mystery well I might as start the review....

This is not really one of Julia's greatest performances and in fact  I'd even say he was in a better film when he was in Street Fighter, but I can't help myself when a Julia performance is recommended just to recognize the man who was taken from this life far too soon. Anyway the mystery of The Morning After does not seem much like a mystery at all as the killing obviously has something to do with Raul Julia who is the only other character in the film besides the male lead played by Jeff Bridges who is a hillbilly? ex-detective. It was obviously not going to be Jeff Bridges as Jagged Edge was only a year before so it had to be Julia, well did it not? Well actually it isn't really because it's this character you don't see until the revelation, which I guess can work, but not if it's written this poorly. Anyway Julia's Jackie still has something to do with it.

For most of the film though Julia comes in and out of the film as Alex's hairdresser and husband although they are apparently amiable in a separation. Julia even in a bad part still has plenty of energy to go around like an early scene where he tries to replay what it was that Alex had done the night before the murder. Julia does not have all that much screen time for him to build a character but he is effective in showing the undercurrent of deceit in Jackie, and the fact that he obviously knows far more about the murder than he let's on. What Julia does though is suggest what is later explained and that is that Jackie is contemplating far more than if he was merely the murdering. There is going on in Julia's portrayal and it would have been interesting to have explored his character more but the film is terrible so it has to focus on Fonda's disjointed performance and Bridges's inconsistent accent.

The revelation at the end of the film is that Jackie is actually trying to cover for his new fiancee who apparently was the one who committed the murder. He does handle the revelation scene well particularly when Jackie is trying to kill Alex. Although the camera angle Lumet chooses is hideous, Julia is effective in showing that Jackie is almost breaking his own heart well trying to do this. In that moment he actually brings far greater depth to the piece than can be found any where else. He is even quite moving when Jackie's fiancee tries to pin the murder on him as he shows Jackie to be so honestly distraught that the woman he tried so hard to save has just betrayed him in the end. This is a more than solid performance by Julia as I do think he rises above his terrible surroundings despite the extreme limitations of the role. I have to say I would have much rather have seen the film be completely about Julia's character moral contemplation over his actions to save his love. Unfortunately though there just is not enough Raul to go around in this case.

6 comments:

Michael McCarthy said...

Knew Julia would be last, this film just didn't pay attention to his character.

Louis, what do you think of Jane Fonda as an actress? Also what you say are some of her better performances?

mrripley said...

Fonda was pretty awful in the late 80's.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

What's the likelihood of reviewing Julia for Presumed Innocent?

Louis Morgan said...

Michael: She has a certain self-awareness that I don't care for, but she does have a strong screen presence. Her best performance I would say is They Shoot Horses, Don't They.

Robert: He's a possibility.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Tobey Maguire in Spider Man 3.

Louis Morgan said...

Maguire's not an actor I care for to begin with and in that film you get the terrible combination of his awful cry faces, and as well every embarrassing moment as evil Peter Parker.