Thursday, 28 December 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1965: Lou Castel in Fists in the Pocket

Lou Castel did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alessandro in Fists in the Pocket.

Fists in the Pocket I found a mostly tiresome exercise about a brother of a family taking a most extreme measure to "cure" his family's dysfunction.

Now I write that it feels as a tiresome exercise because the whole plot setup feels a contrivance for a bit of dark storytelling about this family whom the majority of suffer from epilepsy with only the eldest brother capable of providing a living for his family. The youngest brother though decides to fix this that being Castel's Alessandro. That is the setup however this is not granted any true credence within the film. It is a motivation presented but not earned by what we actually witness within the film which seems built around just attempting to tell this story of a single son trying to destroy his family within. The film is more akin to say Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux in its examination of these events with a certain callousness due to the focus being on Castel's Alessandro and his way of performing the part. The motivation, while granted as some false concern for his older brother, is left to be just the actions of a full blown sociopath however this is further emphasized by making this a stylized sociopath by Castel's portrayal. Castel seems to wish to evoke a young Marlon Brando with his work however he is more than few charisma points short for that coming closer to a precursor of sorts to Brad Dourif.

Castel's performance is quiet and intense as a proper Brandoian turn should be however he doesn't succeed in being that in any way. Castel fails to be charming being far more overtly creepy to the point that anyone should suspect him the moment anything goes wrong for anyone in his household. Castel grimaces around with a coldness that comes off as more off-putting than anything even before he starts to kill off his family members. His approach to stylize so much simplifies the part perhaps too much as even his claimed positive motivation seems a lie through his portrayal of Alessandro as so embracing of his life choices. Castel tries to be too cool for his own good even in this as he leaves the motivation to be thin finding no nuance in this. Instead Castel is content to depict Alessandro as this creeper throughout that I have to admit I found fairly tiresome fairly quickly given that give him scenes that seem to demand a more overt presence which Castel lacks. It seems as though the film would like Alessandro to be a more complicated figure to interpret however it is difficult to do so with his decidedly unpleasant work from the outset. There is no change within the character just this general petulant disdain that defines the man at all times, even his proclamations of love towards two of his siblings feel lacking given Castel's one note portrayal of the vile Alessandro. Although I would say Castel's performance could work within a different context it falters here given the greater importance given to his work. I will even grant him some credit for delivering in the epileptic seizure by throwing himself fully into the moment, but that is a minor point within the larger context of this performance. He needed to make Alessandro a far more dynamic force yet his "too cool for school" choices in developing the role leaves him a repetitious factor that simplifies the story to the point it becomes frankly boring despite its content.


Luke Higham said...

Damn it. :(

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your rating and thoughts on Pitagora?

Matt Mustin said...

Saw The Last Jedi and I loved it. I especially loved how it deliberately and directly played with expectations. Honestly, above all, I'm glad they let Rian Johnson make exactly the movie he wanted to make.

Ridley-4.5(A terrific reprise. Don't really have anything to add to what I said about her in Force Awakens.)

Hamill-5(I've always found that he's been a consistently underrated actor for his entire career, I mean just look at his voice over work to see how versatile he is. Any way, here's a live-action role where he can finally show off his tremendous talent. Hamill is a marvel here and he makes his arc not only believable but extremely affecting and eventually inspiring. Truly great work.)

Driver-4.5(I just find Kylo Ren to be an absolutely fascinating character, and Driver continues to excel in portraying him.)

Boyega-3.5(He's much more limited this time around, because he doesn't really get an arc, but he's still got the same charisma as last time.)

Tran-2.5(Ehhh. I loved the film, but she just didn't really work for me. She has moments but overall she annoyed me more than anything, and she was overshadowed by Boyega and Del Toro.)

Isaac-3.5(Once again extremely enjoyable as the hot-shot pilot.)

Serkis-3(Once again, he's the generic Evil Guy, but he does it well.)

Fisher-3.5(Has the right passion as the Leader of the Resistance, but as well is quite moving when she needs to be. I miss her a lot.)

Dern-3(She does exactly what's needed, nothing more, nothing less.)

Gleeson-2(Alright, I know what he's going for, it just doesn't work for me.)

Del Toro-3.5(Thought he was a lot of fun, and I love how much life he brought to a character who was probably nothing on paper.)

Louis Morgan said...


Pitagora - 4.5(Easily the best part of the film in my mind as her work actually offers the film a bit depth in her work. She manages at least to create some complexity through her interactions with Castel where she creates the sense of difficulty in relating him while also still creating a strong sense of at least an attempted warmth as she tries to connect with him. Although overall the film faltered for me she at least carried along to a degree as I found her performance compelling even while the film was not.)