Sunday, 7 February 2016

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2015: Adam Driver in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Adam Driver did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Kylo Renn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Force Awakens is a very entertaining beginning for a new Star Wars trilogy, even if it perhaps hits a few too many of the plot points of the original film through its story of some unlikely heroes, this time Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), helped by an old mentor this time Han Solo (Harrison Ford), facing down a villain clothed in black, and a giant weapon that specializes in destroying planets.

Kylo Renn acts as the new Darth Vader for the film as he shares a very similair introduction. That being as the leader of a brutal attack who proceeds to take someone prisoner who perhaps holds a key to stop the Empire, I mean the First Order. Both of them have a deep voice though in Vader's case other than the heavy breathing that was just the great voice of James Earl Jones, in this case he very specifically has a distorted voice. Both are rather ominous sounding, and though the amplification in this case does a lot, Driver actually manages a bit of variation within that. Their physical manner also differs greatly. Vader walked in a very distinct way you'd expect almost from a robot. Kylo Renn is made frankly less mechanical as there a sense of youth in his movements, as well are much more that of a man than a machine. Nevertheless in this early scene, and the immediate scene afterwards where he tortures the man, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), to gain the information he seems to be vicious fiend you'd expect him to be, and as Vader had been. It should be noted that Vader actually was just a fairly simplistic villain in the first film, not even the head one as he took orders directly from Grand Moff Tarkin, the development of his character came in the later films, that's not the case for Kylo Renn.

Kylo not exactly being Vader is made obvious from his reaction when things do not go his way, as well as when we actually see Kylo speak directly to the damaged helmet of Vader. When not hearing good news he does not quickly silence or kill the poor messenger as Vader would have done. Driver makes it rather it is a far more intensely emotional reaction almost like a child who has not gotten his way. Driver manages, even over the distortion, to deliver a wavering of his voice as he states his pledge to finish what Vader started. Kylo is not Vader, even though he is related to him, as it turns out he is the son of Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han, Ben Solo. Kylo is not even physically damaged as Vader was, as revealed when he takes off his helmet which revels just a normal young man. The revelation of Driver's face is actually quite an interesting, and one thing in the film that is rather daring. He's not a monster under there at all, and suddenly it seems odd that he's the villain everyone fears. Driver's performance is quite effective in that he's not actively menacing as was the case of Vader due to Jones's voice and David Prowe's stature. He still is a good villain though in that Driver makes there something quite dangerous in the petulance of his Kylo. Driver brings this emotional confusion within the character that makes him rather threatening since you have no idea what he might do with his immense power.

Driver actually does something very interesting with the use of his voice as he does, even without the helmet on, a certain voice that seems to attempt to be emotionless. Kylo though concerned that he cannot completely give himself to the dark side of the force seems to reveal Ben, as his voice wavers to a far human sound. Driver manages to make something quite striking in just how much of an emotional mess that Kylo is as he speaks without his mask. The idea of fear and anger leading to the dark side was rather poorly shown in the prequels through a certain performance, but Driver finally gives this sense through his depiction of Kylo here. The pain of emotion is shown as he speaks about the light still pulling at him, and being a merciless murderer seems to be the only way in which to find any comfort or confidence. The pivotal scene for Driver's performance is when Han finally goes to confront his son and attempt to convince him to give up the dark side. Ford, who might be giving his best performance as Solo actually, and Driver are excellent together as in a single scene they manage to establish a history between the two. There is an unquestionable distance between the two yet in their interactions there still seems to be an underlying connection. Driver is even moving as he reveals a vulnerability in the moment, as a son is revealing his anxieties to find some sort of comfort from his father. It's brilliantly played moment by him as he subverts the tenderness and twists it into a cold comfort as Kylo regains his confidence by killing the original source of this comfort. However this does not appear to solve all of Kylo's problem as he engages in a light saber duel at the end of the film. Driver is very good in the performance of the scene by even representing the mental strife in his wild, and violent attacks. He's not a Darth though he may be on the path to becoming one. This film leaves Kylo's story unfinished as you'd expect but the film and Driver actually have created the most fascinating character out of the villain whose not a simple monster in a mask. After this memorable first act I have to say in terms of the sequels I am most looking forward to seeing the further path of Driver's performance and the story of Kylo Renn.

35 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Great review and he's my favourite of the film. :)

Calvin Law said...

I still preferred Boyega, Ridley, and Ford, but Driver was excellent and I'm glad he got a 4.5, which I think is what I'd give him now. I'm guessing Ford's now a 4.5 :)

Seriously considering bumping Boyega up to a 5 though.

Calvin Law said...

'That being as the leader of a brutal attack who proceeds to take someone prisoner who perhaps holds a key to stop the Empire, I mean the First Order.' Hehe

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Has Ford gone up and is Fisher still a 3.5.

Luke Higham said...

I personally find 12 fives in Supporting, more impressive than 12 Fives in the 2014 Lead Category.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I probably should have double checked Calvin's original ratings for me, since I would have given her a 2.5 originally even. I feel she did phone it in a bit especially compared to Ford who was clearly giving it his all, who I would indeed raise to a 4.5.

Robert MacFarlane said...

*whispers* did you raise Daisy Ridley's score?

Matt Mustin said...

Fascinating performance. I'm thinking of bumping him up to a 5 actually, because all the choices he made were extremely risky and they all paid off.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Great review.
What are your thoughts on Edward Arnold, William Bendix, Peter Lorre and Fred MacMurray as actors?

Luke Higham said...

Robert: She's already a 4.5.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: I highly doubt, Louis' upgrading her again.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Kylo Ren is probably one of the film's most pleasant surprises. Technically a take on Anakin, yet at the same deconstructs the entire idea of a character like that. Whenever someone dismisses Driver's work, I automatically know they wanted a badass and not a character.

Calvin Law said...

One thing I hope happens in the sequel is Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron coming face to face again. Though Boyega and Ridley were indeed excellent in their scenes with him, I think Driver and Isaac had something very special in their short moments together that could be developed into something truly great.

Robert MacFarlane said...

On that note, Isaac DEFINITELY played Poe as gay. I'm not the only one who noticed that, right?

Matt Mustin said...

Robert: I don't know, man. Everyone says that, but I think it was just a really close friendship.

Calvin Law said...

I've read that actually, and really have no idea but whatever goes, goes, makes no difference to me about the character...though if I had to 'ship' a couple, so to speak, I'm definitely on the Finn + Rey boat.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm shipping Poe/BB-8.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

Can't wait to see the full results for Supporting Actors!

Luke Higham said...

Cohen and Sheen will come 11th and 12th respectively.

Luke Higham said...
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Luke Higham said...

I'm really looking forward to what Louis will say about the year as a whole. :)

Anonymous said...

Luke: He'll probably say it was a great year.

Luke Higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael McCarthy said...

The fact that he managed to take elements of Hayden Christensen's work and make them kind of fascinating is beyond impressive. When I rewetted it, I also loved the little moment after he gets shot by Chewie and he starts punching his wound to get the blood to drain out, as if he's actually trying to pound all weakness out of his body.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Great is an understatement, Extraordinary's more appropriate.

Robert MacFarlane said...

LOVED the wound punching.

Luke Higham said...

Michael & Robert: Me Too. :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the wound punching bit was great.

Anonymous said...

John Smith: Louis, could ypu please watch Requiem For A Dream. I would love to hear your thoughts

Luke Higham said...

John: Be patient, he'll see it whenever he gets to 2000 again.

mcofra7 said...

Is Leto any good in that movie?

Robert MacFarlane said...

He was fine.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Edward Arnold - (Such a fantastic and criminally underrated actor. He knew how to give life to the sort of roles that are often so bland. Even in the simplistic versions of these character Arnold brought something, and if there was anything in the material Arnold absolutely ran with it)

William Bendix - (Also a fantastic and criminally underrated actor from the period. Bendix knew how to give so much depth, to what could often have been just kind of the buddy roles. Bendix was one of the most talented at the time in depicting mental illness or even drunkenness. He was quite capable of bringing a realism to work which stood at the time)

Peter Lorre - (Putting the character in character actors. Lorre was dynamite in creating such magnetic portrayals of his crazy roles. Lorre knew how to be entertaining but also knew how to find the right nuance when the role needed it)

Fred MacMurray - (His comic work is pretty standard though fine. When he had something more to work with, which was not too often, he completely would deliver as he knew how to go into darker territory)

Robert:

I agree that was the way Isaac played it. If it was some else other than Isaac one could argue that was accidental, it's Isaac he knew what he was doing.

Mac Sintes said...

I read an interview with Driver (done before the movie), where he mentioned training in the Marines where they learn to punch wounds over and over to numb the nerves and ease the pain so they still function.

Mac Sintes said...

I read an interview with Driver (done before the movie), where he mentioned training in the Marines where they learn to punch wounds over and over to numb the nerves and ease the pain so they still function.