Saturday, June 11, 2011

Joan Fontaine in "Rebecca"

Joan Fontaine received her first Oscar nomination for playing The Second Mrs. De Winter in Rebecca.

Rebecca is truly a terrific film - I'll admit there is some flaws, and the story can get really tiresome after awhile, but it is still terrific all the same. The cinematography and design of the film are breathtaking, it really shows off the incredible quality of black and white. The story of a naive, very insecure woman who falls in love with the rich and charming Maxim De Winter and are quickly married. She finds herself entranced by his world including a mansion called "Manderlay", however the entire household seems still be mourning strangely over the death of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca. Slowly, she begins to go mad, failing to live up to Rebecca's legacy.

Joan Fontaine plays a character without a name, all we know her as is the second Mrs. De Winter. This makes the character much more pathetic, or a better word would empathetic. She is very shaky, very unknowing, very shy and insecure about herself & not at all charming. However, she is desperate to be accepted by everyone, no matter what. She is pretty, but not the stunner and all around incredible person Rebecca was, and she knows all of this, including the fact her husband is still very much attracted to his dead wife.

Joan Fontaine is absolutely incredible in the role. She never plays on the sympathy of the audience who see her hopes and dreams become a harsh reality when she fails to communicate with the rich society and Rebecca's memory. She has so many opportunities to overact and meets those expectations with subtlety and surprising depth. She becomes a movie heroine when she finally decides to start for her husband's affection, everything becomes much more tense and wonderfully played out as Fontaine starts to grow more and more. It's a challenging, bright & dark, lovely performance that rewards the viewer at the end. Joan Fontaine creates a character just as mysterious as Rebecca, but lets us know exactly what is going on inside her head. A brilliant performance.

7 comments:

Dazzling Aura said...

I like Rebecca. I like the mysteriousness of it especially the twist in death of the first Mrs. De Winter. But I am not really fond of Fontaine's performance at all. I thought she's terrible on her first scene, the one in the valley but mostly, to me she is fine. I like Olivier and Anderson, and even George Sanders.

Sage Slowdive said...

I think the beginning was her way of establishing Mrs. DeWinter #2 is a mousy, naive young woman. But, I can see how it can be taken badly.

Louis Morgan said...

I agree, a great performance.

joe burns said...

She is terrific here, when I rewatched a year ago, need to see all of it again though. Do you agree with it's best picture win?

dinasztie said...

A brilliant, astonishing performance. I hope you'll pick her. Figners crossed...

Sage Slowdive said...

Yes, it's incredible.

DistinguishedFlyer said...

Big fan of this movie, and of her in it - my only complaint is that the movie carries on about twenty or thirty minutes past the big revelation.