Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Acting as a Lens into Character



I recently saw the French film Bicycling With Moliere. It's about a successful actor on a popular drama; he's recognized and pretty much adored wherever he goes. He's decided to prove his chops as an actor by performing Moliere's The Misanthrope with an actor leading a reclusive life on an island. That actor agrees to consider doing the play, but only if they switch doing the lead role during the performance, and if the successful actor will rehearse the play with him for a week.

What I found intriguing in the movie is how, as the actors switch roles in the play, the choices they make for delivering lines speaks to something deeper that animates each man. By the time the popular actor appears in the play and loses his way, it's clear from his rehearsals that he lost his way years before. The busyness of his successful life allowed him to maintain a cheerful, in control facade.

The realization for the reclusive actor is that he can't go back to living among the feral wolves, which is how he sees the people who revolve around the successful actor.

The acting in the movie is subtle and playful, but the story does take each actor to a deeper place.

Actors like Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson became successful, in part, because they choose roles (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard) that took their characters to a place where a facade was replaced by a deeper state of human feeling. When you come across a hugely successful film or story, you'll generally find that transformation of character. It's a journey audiences love to experience.

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To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.