Saturday, 16 August 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1997: Jude Law in Gattaca

Jude Law did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca.

Gattaca is an interesting and mostly effective sci-fi thriller, although I think it does try too hard to pull all the storyline together at the end, about a man who is deemed genetically inferior who assumes the identity of a genetically superior man in order to achieve his dream of space travel.

Ethan Hawke plays the man, Vincent, who usurps a genetically "perfect" man's position who is played by Jude Law. Hawke and Law seem to make sense for this type of arrangement. Not only because they do bear some physical similarities but also rather strangely, I feel, both are, in the general public sense, somewhat undervalued as actors. Jude Law is an interesting actor to me in that despite being a leading man, and I do like him just fine as a leading man, his best performances come from more character actor type roles like in A.I., The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Road to Perdition. This is once again a supporting role for Jude Law as he plays the genetically "pure" man who allows his identity to be taken since he has suffered an injury which leaves him crippled from the waist down. Jerome gives his name to Vincent as well as various samples needed for various tests in exchange simply for the cash to allow him to live a similar lifestyle to the one that he had been accustom to before his accident.

Law effectively makes a fierce impact the moment we see him in onscreen. Law's creates a palatable sense of bitterness in his performance as Jerome is forced to give up his own "perfect" status for another. Law does not simply leave this as the only reason for Jerome's overall state as Jerome explain that even in his seemingly perfect state of health he was unable to be the best at his own chosen goal. Law does not simply suggest the emotions as something simple but brings the complexity they deserve. Law has a cynicism in his manner fitting for a man who seems to have been betrayed by fate as well as the whole promise of his existence. Along with that though Law as well conveys the depression of Jerome, as he seems to be pained by the simple fact that he is living a life that is anything but perfection. Law gives the state of the man and brilliantly gives us the past life of the man without ever having to show a single scene of Jerome before his accident.

Once they begin their ruse Law and Hawke share many scenes together discussing the various success and problems that arise from their arrangement. Law almost supersedes Hawke in portraying the main character arc of the film because Hawke perhaps plays the role with a little too much confidence from the beginning. He plays his character as almost completely ready from the beginning and there is not all that much change. Law on the other hand is extremely effective in showing how the real Jerome is changed by the exploits of the fake Jerome. Law makes Jerome extremely easy to invest into despite the fact that Jerome simply is becoming invested into the exploits of fake Jerome. Law is convincing in creating this odd form of empathy as Law in a way becomes the one who shows a growing intensity due to the growing intensity of the situation. Law as well is the one who shows Jerome grow as they seem closer to the goal, and brings an honest poignancy to showing basically life come back to this man simply by seeing another man fulfill his inspiration.

Most of the problems in the film actually come from the fact that the film fails to completely give Law his due. Every scene with Law is compelling because Law makes Jerome such a compelling person all on his own, when he very easily could have simply been a plot device. I wanted more of him and of the odd relationship between the two men playing the same men, but the film unfortunately too often decides against this approach. This only becomes more problematic though by the ending which I think completely undervalues what Law does in the role. The film ends with Hawke's Vincent managing, against all the odds, to make it out into space finally, but at the same time Jerome decides to suddenly commit suicide at the same time. I can only feel that this was the writer trying for too much symbolism as the imperfect man makes it to the stars, and the perfect one burns alive. The ending was not deserving for the character and certainly not the life Law managed to give him. It might have made sense for the Jerome we met at the beginning, but not in the way Law grew the character as the film progressed. Technically Law, I suppose, should have given a lesser performance that just kept Jerome as constant to make the ending make more sense, but no I prefer the great performance he gave instead, and really it's the ending that should have changed not Law's performance.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great review as usual and you really made me interested in this movie! Can I ask your ratings and thoughts on Lee Remick in Tribute, A Face in The Crowd and Sometimes a Great Notion?

luke higham said...

Louis: In your opinion, what are your top ten overrated actors of all time, as well as those currently at the moment.

Michael McCarthy said...

I really liked this performance, and I agree that with a better film it could've been a five. I personally think the main problem with this potentially great story was that it was just underwritten in every way, many of the scenes should've been longer so they would've had more time to flesh out the characters and situations.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Between this, Road to Perdition and AI, which do you think is his strongest performance?

Also ratings on the cast of the Expendables 3 lol

Louis Morgan said...

Tribute - 2.5(She was one of the few things that I did not hate about the film. Unfortunately she's only in a couple of scenes where she managed to be rather sweet)

A Face in the Crowd - 3(Only in a couple of scenes but Remick makes you instantly believe why she would quickly find sway with old Lonesome Rhodes)

Sometimes a Great Notion - 2.5(Her character has far too little to do as the sorta suffering wife. She's fine at portraying sorta suffering but really the film barely even devotes a scene to her)

Luke:

1. Sean Penn
2. Jamie Foxx
3. Will Smith
4. Warren Beatty
5. George Clooney
6. Gene Kelly
7. Nick Nolte
8. Matt Damon
9. Spencer Tracy
10. Gary Cooper

1. Sean Penn
2. Jamie Foxx
3. Will Smith
4. Warren Beatty
5. George Clooney
6. Nick Nolte
7. Matt Damon
8. Johnny Depp
9. Denzel Washington
10. Colin Firth

Michael:

Its concept certainly was far stronger than its execution.

GetDonaldSutherlandOscar:

I think I'm leaning a little closer to Gattaca although the funny thing is in both cases the films cut Law a little short.

Expendables 3:

Stallone - 1
Statham - 2
Banderas - 2.5
Li - 1
Snipes - 2
Lundgren - 1.5
Grammer - 3
Couture - 1
Crews - 2
Lutz - 1
Rousey - 1
Powell - 1
Ortiz - 1
Ford - 2
Schwarznegger - 1.5
Gibson - 3.5

luke higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on Gibson in The Expendables 3.

Also, thoughts on Sean Penn, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Colin Firth as actors.

Louis Morgan said...

Gibson - (While watching the film I was actually getting a bit concerned that they were going to completely waste Gibson as he just is forced to stand around for a long period of the film, but when he finally gets to talk Gibson instantly establishes himself as the best part of the film. Gibson eats Stallone alive in their scene together as Gibson relishes his villainous role for all its worth, which unfortunately is not a lot. Gibson brings some very much needed energy and just enough menace to make an entertaining and intimidating villain. The part actually is terribly written, but Gibson manages to elevate it. Even with all the bad things his character supposedly did I still wanted Gibson to win)

Sean Penn - (I find him the most overrated simply because I have seen him put up as an all time great. Penn does have ability but he does not show it all that often. He is a truly horrendous over actor and he almost has a trademark in that overacting scream he does in far too many roles. Even when he downplays it doesn't always work as he often comes off as terribly dull)

Jamie Foxx - (I find Foxx underwhelming in almost every facet as an actor. I don't find him particularly charming, I don't find him particularly funny, and he never is able to disappear in a role even slightly.)

Will Smith - (Smith does have a definite charm, but as a dramatic actor a lot is to be desired. He can be extremely mannered yet still far too breezy in his dramatic roles which is a terrible combination.
Even his charm is being a bit misspent these days since when he does not try the charm is not there. It is almost like too many people told him he was charming so he no longer thinks he needs to actual produce the charm.
I try not to get personal, but since it involves his own film career, it does not help that he tries to push his, apparently, no talent son constantly)

George Clooney - (He does of course have presence, he does have ability as The American as well as a few other performances have proved. He coasts far too much on his charm, which I don't find all that charming, trying to make it completely anchor too many of his performances. On the flip side many of his weaker dramatic turns are simply just not doing his charm while not bothering to replace it with anything whatsoever)

Matt Damon - (I actually can like Matt Damon sometimes as I think he is capable of being a solid leading man. When he is not a solid actor though he is a terribly bland one who also tries to rely on a charm like Clooney, but actually don't think Damon has that much of an innate charm actually)

Johnny Depp - (He's got talent somewhere in him, but that would be hard to find these days. Depp is already in his late Nicholson side of his career it seems as every performance is an over the top characterization that seems to be monitored by no one. Depp is capable of having a good performance derived out of him whether it is toned down like Donnie Brasco, or overt like in Ed Wood. Depp though is like a thin stick tottering just over a river though just one slight breeze he's already gone too far ever to be recovered)

Denzel Washington - (I actually find Washington completely fine as an actor. He has plenty of charisma and presence to go around. I just don't think he is nearly as great as he is often considered as I do feel he has a fairly limited range)

Colin Firth - (Like Washington I do find him entirely fine and can be quite good in certain cases. I don't put him as high as some simply because rarely do you not see the wheels turning, so to speak, with one of his performances)

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, have you ever seen a performance by Sean Penn you really liked outside of Dead Man Walking?

Louis Morgan said...

No not really but then again I really do need to re-watch A Thin Red Line.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I'm surprised Tom Hanks is not on your list, but then again he doesn't deserve to be since he is very good in films like Captain Philips and Road to Perdition, and amazing in Cast Away.

Are there any actors/actresses you used to think underrated but now find overrated?

Underrated-Overrated:
Ryan Gosling (Getting really tired of his schitck)
Casey Affleck (I've been really disappointed with his last few performances which is a shame)
Jennifer Lawrence (although this may be more of a case of overexposure)
Robert Downey Jr. (Now this is a controversial one, and I actually still quite love him as an actor, I just think he needs to try something new and he is wasting his tremendous amount of talent)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he needs to stop trying to be a Hollywood leading man and go back to what he does his best work in, non-mainstream features that take advantage of his talents)
Anthony Hopkins (been phoning it in for quite a while now, which to be fair has resulted in some fun performances like Fracture, but damn again, what a waste)

As for vice versa, I think actors like Gregory Peck, James Cagney and Humphre Bogart are unfairly chastitised by modern audiences for being "one-note". I also think Russell Crowe has become very, very underrated as opposed to being a BIT overrated in his prime.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Also, sorry if this is a long post, but Louis do you (and anyone else for that matter) think the following actors are overrated/underrated:

Jeremy Irons
Javier Bardem
Kevin Spacey
Brad Pitt (he obviously has bundles of talent but I find when he is bad he is really bad, so it evens out into neutrality for me)
James Woods
Tom Cruise

And last but not least,
DONALD SUTHERLAND

mcofra7 said...

For those who have seen it, is Dom Hemingway worth watching for Law's performance?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

mccofra7: No. Law and Richard E. Grant are good as always, but the dialogue is AWFUL and most of the other acting are pretty atrocious.

Louis Morgan said...

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

Hanks just did Captain Phillips so for me he's definitely not overrated at the moment.

As for the going from underrated to overrated I certainly do agree about Gosling who needs to switch things up a bit and Lawrence who probably should move away from David O. Russell. Although apparently not if she wants to keep being nominated for Oscars.

Alright overrated, underrated or neutral(as in rated just as they should be)

Jeremy Irons (Neutral to slightly underrated. Neutral as he really has done nothing of note most recently, but he should be a little more remembered for the fantastic work he did earlier in his career)

Javier Bardem (Neutral, don't love all of his performances but I do love some of them a great deal so I don't mind his position)

Kevin Spacey (Neutral, same as Bardem really)

Brad Pitt (Neutral. He may be a bit bland as a leading man sometimes but his character actor type performances usually make up for it)

James Woods (Underrated)

Tom Cruise (Neutral. I use to be more negative towards Cruise but he really has put out some fine work over the years)

Donald Sutherland (Neutral to underrated since he should have at least one Oscar nomination)

Kevin said...

Louis, what are your ratings and thoughts on Ethan Hawke in Gattaca and Bill Pullman in Lost Highway?

Anonymous said...

Can I have your ratings and thoughts on Sharon Stone in Casino and Elizabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas?

Anonymous said...

Louis, why exactly do you think that Anne Bancroft is leading in The Graduate? I think she's terrific but I'm not sure about the category placement... She has a very limited screentime and she almost disappears in the second half but her performance dominates the movie in a way... I'm not really sure, what do you think?

Louis Morgan said...

Kevin:

Hawke - 3.5(There are a few instances early on where he plays the role in a manner that seems slightly off, he's often overshadowed by Law, and he doesn't really create much of an arc for the character.
Having said that though most of the time he does give a solid portrayal of the character's determination as well is rather effective in his portrayal of the emotional pressure caused by the growing intensity of the investigation that is closing in on him)

Pullman - 4(Pullman has a challenge in that he really does not have that many character traits to go off of as well as disappears for a long while during the film, and
is forced to portray the change of his character without the transition shown. Pullman though is very good in the early scenes as a bit of a reflection for the audience's own paranoia and fear. Then later he is again effective as Pullman becomes more synergized with the style of the film as he becomes an avenging film noir style protagonist)

Anonymous:

Stone - 2.5(I really don't care for in this as I don't think she's especially alluring in her glamorous scenes, and then I feel she goes for the most obvious type of melodramatic acting
in her unglamorous scenes)

Shue - 4.5(The hooker with the heart of gold is a cliched role to be sure, but Shue never plays the role in an obvious fashion. She brings a warmth to her performance but she downplays it in the right fashion to be fitting of her character's history. She slowly builds in her scenes with Cage making their relationship believable as well as
allowing it to be truly heartbreaking)

She's very much borderline since she does have that strong presence you describe. I'm actually might lean more towards supporting now that I think of it. She does not have perspective, and really how she is treated in the finale is far more fitting of a supporting character than a leading one.