Nobody would’ve believed someone who said Adrien Brody would be the science fiction star of 2010. But here we are, with Brody offering up two performances in Splice and Predators that, along with his work in movies like King Kong, The Village, and The Jacket earn him a place among the most unconventional science fiction/fantasy stars working today. However, Brody does much more than sci-fi. He has triumphed the Oscars (The Pianist), solved murder mysteries (Hollywoodland), and searched for himself alongside his brothers (The Darjeeling Limited); whether or not the movie is that great, you can rely on Mr. Brody to create a character that you’ll want to watch and learn more about. Here are his five most interesting to date.
In the film that single-handedly revitalized Roman Polanski’s career, a star was born. Adrien Brody’s Oscar-winning performance as Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist in Poland who survives World War II, is also his finest. He takes us through the movie’s harrowing, almost three hour journey, triumphing like few Polanski protagonists are allowed to do. The no-bull honesty of the filmmaking combined with Brody’s transformative performance ranks this movie among the greatest WWII films. From his upper middle-class beginnings to losing everything to getting some of it back, this true-ish story takes us on a journey we rarely get to see done so well: a journey into the very heart of the human spirit. We don’t often hear him play the piano, but the music never stops.
Brody likes his three hour epics, and there are few modern ones better than Peter Jackson’s remake of the legendary King Kong. An unlikely action hero, we see him as playwright Jack Driscoll and immediately doubt him. What he lacks in macho posturing (which the movie hilariously pans), he makes up for in smarts, charm, and determination. Though the movie has you sympathizing with the two ton ape, you’ll feel Driscoll’s reluctant hero as well.
As a man trying to solve a murder that happened years ago, Brody’s Louis Simo uncovers a bloody tale of deception and corruption in vintage tinsel town. Like many American male film protagonists, his journey to do the right thing turns into obsession, alienating him from his wife and son. Through this cliche though, Brody makes us believe as he digs deeper and deeper through the muck and grime. We’re drawn to the different motives of the murder thanks in no part to its detective.
Delving deep into the cloning issue is something sci-fi movies are capable of more than any other genres. Splice is a harrowing, deeply engaging message movie, with Brody as one half of an elite genetic duo slowly breaking every scientific principle they believe in to discover. He is more reluctant than his co-worker and lover, but as they proceed and life is created in the form of a giant miracle named Dren, Clive Nicoli is drawn to the fire like so many moths. He teaches her to dance in the movie’s most charming scene, and has sex with her in one of the movie’s weirdest. Through it all, he keeps us believing that it could happen, and that it might.
This movie gets unfairly panned by a lot of people. Is it the greatest psychological thriller since The Silence of the Lambs? Of course not, but it isn’t Hannibal or Red Dragon either. Brody stars alongside Keira Knightly as a veteran wrongfully imprisoned in a demented mental ward where grotesque experiments and experiences transform his life for the worse. The scenes where his character is placed in a straight jacket and then thrown into an empty locker at what appears to be a morgue are claustrophobic in the best possible way, and we believe every second of it.
Notable Mentions: The Village, The Darjeeling Limited, Predators