Friday, 26 June 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1989: Raul Julia in Romero

Raul Julia did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez in Romero.

Romero is a decent yet unremarkable film about the Archbishop who opposed the tyrannical government in El Salvador.

Raul Julia plays the Archbishop Romero who begins in the film as a fairly simple bishop who is actually looked upon with some disdain by other radical priests, although not by his popular friend, Friar Rutilio Grande (Richard Jordan). Julia is good in these scenes as he establishes Romero's personal stance to the country's problems. Julia is good in the way he frankly allows Romero's behavior to be con-screwed as some sort of apathy, which is how the radicals priest view him as, as Julia plays Romero as a particularly quiet man who from a distance seems to have very little reaction to what is going on all around him in the country. Julia though does not suggest Romero to be callous in his manner, and not even as a man unsure of his place in the conflict. Julia instead effectively exudes a certain religious piety that technically is far more optimistic than the priests who deride him. Romero likely due to his unassuming personality soon finds himself promoted to archbishop. Julia does not show that Romero is at all changed by his suddenly important position, although it does force him to have to make a statement for the church.

Julia's very good in his first speech where Romero essentially states he will keep the same position that he has had before. Julia though brings the right sort of refined passion to his statements still, which although state that the church will stay in the middle under him, he does stress that the church will always seek justice above all. I like how Julia does not make this a compromised statement from Romero, but rather he brings the right earnestness to the sermon of a man who does believe what he is saying. Julia does not play Romero as a man whose lost and needs to be shown a different way, rather he shows that Romero has his way which he has complete faith in. During this early period Julia very importantly shows sides to Romero other than what the intention of the film require him to be. Julia just has some good slight moments where he shows actually an enthusiasm Romero has in taking over the new post. It does not come off as selfish or prideful, but rather Julia portrays as just a genuine reaction to his success. He has one particularly good scene where he sorta celebrates with Father Grande, and the two actors bring a nice warmth to the relationship.

That is particularly necessary because the film does not dwell on their relationship for long, but it ends up being an essential part of Romero's story. Eventually Father Grande's known activism for the common people gets him shot and killed by a government death squad. Julia is outstanding in portraying the devastation in Romero when he sees his old friend's corpse along with the few innocent children shot with him. In the moment Julia powerfully conveys the change in Romero. One of the better aspects of the film is that Romero does not suddenly become like Grande, even with his death, but what the film shows along with Julia performance is a far more gradual transformation of the man. Julia does not switch on to Romero being suddenly adamant against the government, but what he does show is a change in how Romero conducts himself. Julia keeps the certain elegant devotion in Romero but there is something more energetic, active and most of all outgoing about it all. There is a greater purpose Julia suggests in a determination not to just pray for justice, although he will continue to do that, but to take action to stop the violence in his country.

What I think is most remarkable about Julia's performance here is that Julia does not play Romero as a great man so to speak, he's not larger than life and he in no way carries himself as such. Julia presents him as a man in this situation, although a man driven by his faith and belief in good for all mankind. In this way Julia does bring some very human exasperation in Romero's efforts as he attempts to actually mediate between the radical priests, who begin to take some violent actions themselves, as he is repulsed by this idea no matter the circumstance. It's not some divine person here, but a man who is doing what he can to do what is best. Even Romero's actions though begin to face more sever persecution even when they are merely performing his normal duties. There's a strong moment for Julia when Romero states his intentions to perform mass, even though violent troops have taken over the local church. After the men desecrate the holy material in the church, Romero goes and collects them. What I love what Julia does is he creates the very real fear in Romero as he takes this action, making his perseverance to do so all the more poignant.  

Now I think a point of contention for this performance though could come in the scenes where Romero is pushed to the edge by the sheer cruelty of the people he has been attempting to reason with. Julia is very intense in these scenes, and frankly yells quite loudly. I actually think it works for the character he has created thus far. His Romero is a man possessed to this sort of behavior, that just acting out in anger at all, that Julia makes it as though Romero has to force it out in this way since it is so opposed to his very nature. As everything becomes worse though Romero is not only reduced to rage to fight this hatred. In fact Romero in a way is raised up through his good works, as the people support him all the more, and Julia is excellent in bringing just a bit of hope in these moments as Romero embraces their love while returning it. In the end Romero, due to the overwhelming brutality of the government, is forced from mediation to direct confrontation through a final speech, which he states his condemnations of their horrible actions. Julia delivery is wonderful as he brings out the power of the speech, as he portrays the searing disgust for the evil perpetuated by these men. Julia's work here is remarkable as he elevates his thin material to create a moving portrait of a martyr.

28 comments:

Michael McCarthy said...

Yeah my prediction change seems about right.

Calvin Law said...

1. Spader
2. Fox
3. Hurt
4. Bridges
5. Julia

luke higham said...

1. Spader
2. Fox
3. Hurt
4. Bridges
5. Julia

luke higham said...

Louis: It's great to see a performance get a 0 for once.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Female top 5s for 1980 and 1981 with Ratings.

RatedRStar said...

1. Spader
2. Fox
3. Hurt
4. Julia
5. Bridges

JackiBoyz said...

1. James Spader
2. Michael J. Fox
3. John Hurt
4. Raul Julia
5. Jeff Bridges

I am not particularly confident that Spader will finish first but everyone else thinks so, so I will support that decision.

luke higham said...

I'll change mine again.
1. Spader
2. Fox
3. Hurt
4. Julia
5. Bridges

RatedRStar said...

Also, just one thing,, yessss about darn time =D

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings & Thoughts on Bill Nighy in POTC: At World's End and Ian Holm in Ratatouille.

Michael McCarthy said...

Daniel: Yup, America got its shit together for a whole day. I actually didn't even see any angry, ignorant posts about it (at least not directly on my feed).

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your ratings and thoughts on John Gavin in Psycho and Spartacus? I wonder how he got cast in those movies, he was so dull.

GM said...

Even my grandma is using the rainbow filter <3

RatedRStar said...

I wish ill be here long enough (I dont expect to be here in ten years time), to witness a universal change in how everyone views LGBT rights, it would be nice if the whole world was as loving.

RatedRStar said...

Not necessarily the blog, just in general.

Kevin said...

Hey Louis, what are your thoughts on Iain Glen, Burn Gorman and Noah Taylor in Game of Thrones?

Anonymous said...

Thoughts/ratings on Brigitta Valberg and Brigitta Pettersson in The Virgin Spring?

Michael McCarthy said...

Daniel: ???

John Smith said...

I have question, what would you people say are the top ten realistic movie depictions of a intimate relationship?

My top ten in random order except for number 1 pick

1.Before Trilogy And Scenes From A Marriage
2.Blue Valentine
3.Enternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
4.Her
5.Wake Up Sid
6.500 Days Of Summer
7.High Fidelity
8.Silver Linings Playbook
9.The Piano
10.Fucking Åmål

Anonymous said...

I'd add Days of Wine and Roses and Blue is the Warmest Colour.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I love (500) Days of Summer, but I don't consider it a realistic depiction of a relationship so much as an unreliable POV of a relationship from selfish "Nice Guy" .

John Smith said...

Robert: The reason i consider it realistic is becauese it shows how Lewits charachter saw everything as if it was perfect and created a false picture of their relationship and his partner as well. Something many guys i know has done.I also tought is showed how it was coming over an relationship quite effectively. How would your list be?

Anonymous: Haven't seen those, should put them on the list

Anonymous said...

And also, Brokeback Mountain. I think it's fantastic and extremely realistic.

Michael McCarthy said...

Annie. Hall. I know there are many dissenters on this blog but I consider it the greatest representation of adult romantic immaturity on film.

GM said...

Annie Hall is a masterpiece imo.

John Smith said...

McCarthy: Tought i had it on my list, must have forgotten it, would put it in it instead of High Fidelity

Anonymous said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on Rachel Roberts in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Nighy - 3(He still offers some enjoyable villainous work although the excessive length of the film and exposure of his character in the film diminishes his impact actually)

Holm - 3(He's enjoyably absurd in doing an evil french chef routine)

Anonymous:

I'd give him 1.5 for both. He's about equally bland in both although each of them seemed tailor made for his particular "talent". I mean take a look at the remake where Viggo Mortensen does just seem wasted in that role in regards to Psycho. He's really there just to be shirtless I think. Spartacus he's mostly there to look like a strong guy next to Olivier all the time. I do think someone actually could have done a little more in the role, to convey the character's eventual ambition, but his blandness again does not really hurt the film, although it does not exactly help it either)

Kevin:

Iain Glen - (Glen I don't think always has the best role as he probably gets the most obvious exposition in that rarely is written any better than let me explain this topic for you and the audience. To his credit though Glen has a good voice for it. It does not help that his devotion to one my least favorite characters can get a little annoying. Both of these have nothing to do with Glen. He really offers some strong support throughout portraying Jorah's horrible pain at the level of friendzone he is in, but as well dealing with his own mistakes of the past and the present. He does not always have a lot of chances to do more, but when he does he always excels such as when Jorah must confront Daenerys about his betrayal or when he learns about his father)

Burn Gorman - (A fookin legend. This is not one of the most subtle performances from the series, but that does not matter because it is glorious. Gorman has just the right sort of fun in the role bringing so much glee to his hired killer who has quite the high opinion of himself)

Noah Taylor - (This performance is a revelation considering the often weak willed and retiring characters he plays. I mean this proves he could have played Danny Huston's part in the Proposition rather than the part of a squealing wimp. It's pretty surprising how much menace he brings to the role, and is truly intimidating in every scene he is in especially in the "give a hand" sequence)

Anonymous:

Pettersson - 3(Well she's all virginal and pure as you want from the role, but I don't feel she leaves too much of an impression considering the nature of the role)

Valberg - 3.5(Her performance is effective in creating a certain dynamic with von Sydow as together they convey the palatable combination of grief and anger that propel their characters to take their desperate actions)

Anonymous:

Roberts - 4.5(It's not too much of a difference from her Oscar nominated role, but again she's excellent in bringing an actual depth and complexity to this sort of role. She creates a palatable desperation in the role, and is convincing in creating the sort of relationship she has with the younger man)