Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Best Leading Actress 1981: Susan Sarandon - Atlantic City

This performance has been the topic of many discussions, since it was campaigned in the supporting category, but it got nominated in the leading. It's the same case, as with Kate Winslet's win, but both of the times I think the Academy got it right. Both ladies are clearly female leads of their film.
Susan Srandon plays Sally, a woman who has had some problems with her life and she starts having an affair with an old retired mob Lou, played by Burt Lancaster. At first their relationship is not very close.
But some time around the first hour of the film, Lancaster's character Lou changes a bit. He starts doing business and it changes him. He starts to be very gentle and kind to Sarandon's character Sally. Sarandon is very good at her reactions to this change. We can clearly see just through her eyes what she thinks about it, but she wants to stay polite, because she needs his help. But then later in the film, their relationship develops too quick, from Sarandon's side. The director and even Lancaster are trying ot make it as slow and realistic, as possible, but Sarandon maybe pushes a bit too much. This is very obvious in a scene at the restaurant. I don't know, if she was trying to play a bit drunk, but if yes, then it wasn't enough and if no, then it was too quick.
On the other hand, later in the film she again gets to those tiny reactions that express she's not interested in Lou. Though they are very well handled by her, they simply don't work in context of the film.
Sarandon has got a overview over her character, which would normally not be bad, but this time it's transformed in the performance in the worst possible way. She became underwhelming throughout her entire performance. It's very disappointing to see it happen, since her character could in fact have been a juicy part to play. (SPOILER ALERT) For example, in a scene, where she sees her husband dead. There is a long take on her face, but there was nothing I could see in her eyes. She doesn't even try. I know that her relationship with him wasn't very good, but it must have done something to her. (SPOILER ENDS)
What is very strange about this performance is the fact that it seemed to me, as if Sarandon didn't know, what attitude Sally has towards Lou. It's like a roller-coaster. Sometime she plays disinterest, sometimes confusion, sometimes she is all right with it and even provokes Lancaster. When those scenes are cut one after another, it really seems odd and improbable.
I must as well say that this performance does have its good parts. For example the scene in the casino at the end of the film, in which she screams at everyone. After this scene she suddenly uses what's given to her and plays just like her previous scenes should have been played.
We all know that Sarandon is not a bad actress. She handled her character this way on purpose. But most of the time I just found it too underwhelming to like it. It's not a bad performance. It's rather a disappointing one.
The chances of winning an Oscar: The category confusion and the fact this is her first nomination weren't very helpful. Another case of 'just happy for the nomination'...