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January 21, 2010

2009: V-Biopics

…none of which were very good…except for:
Julie & Julia – …the Julie of which could have been cut or at least de-whined but Meryl Streep as Julia Child was, come on, TO DIE FOR!

The problem with American actors in biopics generally is that American actors too often have a tendency to do impersonations rather than to truly inhabit the roles. Take Hillary Swank (Amelia) and Morgan Freeman (Invictus) or Joaquin Phoenix in the 2004 Walk the Line. Nothing even close to Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose or this year’s haunting performance by Yolande Moreau in Séraphine and Meryl Streep’s joyous embodiment of Julia Child. To give American actors their due, Matt Damon in The Informant! and Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in the 2006 The Last King of Scotland nail it.

Amelia – Well, Hillary Swank got her affected accent right throughout the film but Richard Gere only got his right in about the first three lines.

Coco Before Chanel – Terrible title; great costumes – well, they’d have to be, now wouldn’t they – but really…could anyone’s life have been so charmed??

Invictus – Morgan Freeman is Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon is good, but it all just falls short. Clint Eastwood has missed something. On top of everything else, it’s a really bad poem.

Public Enemies – Johnny Depp, here as John Dillinger, is always fabulous on-screen, even when the cars are over-restored, the plot strained, and the vintage costuming too perfect to be true.

The Soloist – After your heart has been warmed, there’s just not much going on here.

The Young Victoria – Nicely done, but there is a sameness about the actresses who are cast to play English heroines, whether fictional or real.

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