Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"

Melissa Leo received her second Oscar nomination for playing Alice Ward in The Fighter.

The Fighter offers many cliches, and the two supporting ladies get to play stock characters - a slutty, yet understanding girlfriend and an eccentric, trashy yet understanding mother. It's up to the actresses to take their characters to another level, a three-dimensional level where we can feel the character's feelings and needs. In the past, it has usually been the girlfriend part that has gotten more recognition from the Academy and it's interesting to see this year, more then likely, the winner will be the trashy mother.

Melissa Leo plays Alice, the mother of two fighters (and a huge deal of other kids) who manages her sons and as well as trying to control them. She has powerful, yet subtle control over her famous kid Dicky, but her son Mickey is slowly waning away from her. She smokes cigarettes constantly, she likes to start trouble, but she has a reasonable need to do all the things that she does. It bothers me when people say the performance is over the top - if anything, Melissa Leo downplays the eccentric personality of the character.

However, Melissa Leo's performance does not win me over. When she is on screen, I feel the "craziness" that is apparent but never shown, should have been more played out. Her character is very easily overshadows and unapparent, especially when she tries to stand out. What do we take away from Alice other then that she really loves her kid behind her facade - and for me, I couldn't even see the facade. The manipulative nature of her character is only shown in a very few seconds, and Leo looses grips on that consistently. Still, she has her moments, and she's very enjoyable in her trashy moments. Just not enough to call it a great performance.


dinasztie said...

I really like her. It's tough to pick between her and Jacki.

joe burns said...

I 100% agree! I think she's good in parts, but not much of a character.

Amy Adams is much better , and should have won. I haven't seen Jackie though...