7.05.2006

Parker Posey in SUPERMAN RETURNS - Supporting Actress Watch

StinkyLulu approached Bryan Singer's super-epic Superman Returns with more than a touch of dread. And knowing that Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey were slated to play the villains (Lex & Kitty) didn't necessarily help matters. Two of the most "acquired" tastes in contemporary film playing its two goofiest villains? A possibly inspired choice but who'da thunk't...


...Parker Posey in Superman Returns?
(Gotta love how Superman here flies just like Isis: Exhibits 1 & 2.)

Surprisingly, Kitty Kowalski is an ideal role for Posey's distinctive style of characterization. Parker Posey has a gift for being "present" that's peculiar, even unique. And for a film like this one (wherein character functions mostly as a device, nuance & shading be damned!) that gift proves especially useful. Posey's characters are sublimely absorbed in their own, often idiosyncratic worlds; the camera & narrative seem almost interlopers, occasionally -- if they're lucky -- capturing useful bits and bobs. What's consistently compelling, though, is that Posey's performances don't call into question whether there's a backstory. (Indeed, Posey rarely clues her audiences into who her characters are, only that they are.) Rather, in what might be an anti- or ├╝ber-Method particularly suited for comedy, the question becomes more whether the actress will share any of that obviously elaborate backstory with the audience. In Superman Returns, Posey's tricksy little way of making an inscrutable reality "real" proves useful for Kitty -- Lex Luthor's ladyfriend/lapdog -- a woman whose actions defy easy explanation.


From the moment Kitty stomps through the SS Gertrude, freaked out that Lex would sacrifice her for a Superman setup, Posey's Kitty delivers a comic poignancy to the film that becomes absolutely necessary -- and totally captivating. From this moment, it's clear that the characters of Kitty and Lois Lane operate in tandem. The story's emotional arc follows their unwitting counterpoint as each independently develops doubts about (a) how she sees the world & (b) how she sees Superman in it. Though ostensibly parallel, the clarity of Posey's Kitty -- the audience may not know why she does what she does but there's no looking away from her doing it -- provides a much more solid emotional hook than Kate Bosworth's anemic Lois Lane. (Couldn't they have used Julia Stiles or Rachel McAdams for Lois -- someone with intrisic intelligence instead of willowy wan-ness?) Throughout, Posey punctuates the ponderous sincerity of this film with giddy gracenotes; and as a direct result, Posey's performance becomes both a rare treat and a noteworthy success.

Speaking of rare treats:
Bryan Singer's especial genius in casting TV's first "Lois Lane"...

...Noel Neill as Lex Luthor's sugar-granny Gertrude Vanderworth just went by way too fast. Not to mention the under-utilization of Eva-Marie Saint. Or her orange lipstick. Nearly criminal. Ah well. Things're tough all around when biddies must battle gay rugby-beefcake for screentime. Talk about torn allegiances for a homauteur...

3 comments:

RC said...

posey doesn't have a supporting actress prayer.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

StinkyLulu said...

I totally agree.
I'm just using the "supporting actress" angle to focus my comments on recent movies...

StillWater said...
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