One of the most wildly talented performers working today, Tilda Swinton brings the utmost care to every movie character she portrays. Whether it’s glossy Hollywood productions like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, intense indie grime like Julia or a seductive romance like the Italian drama I Am Love, Swinton truly transforms on the screen. She makes every character, no matter how weird and despicable, inescapably human. Often pidgeonholed as an Ice Queen after playing them (sometimes literally) in movies like Burn After Reading, Michael Clayton and The Chronicles of Narnia, the truth is that Swinton simply has more emotional range and capacity for risk-taking than anyone else currently working in her profession.
Michael Clayton-Movies like this don’t intend to become a showcase for acting, yet Swinton steals every scene she is in, Clooney be damned. As cutthroat corporate executive Karen Crowder, Swinton shows us a woman whose every ferocious stroke is driven by desperation. For every scene showcasing her aggressiveness, there is one that undermines it, including the legendary final showdown between her and the title character.
Fish Tank Directed by: Andrea Arnold Written by: Andrea Arnold (screenplay) Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway, and Kierston Wareing
Beginning with a head-on view of its protagonist surrounded by the blue walls of an abandoned apartment, Fish Tank explains its title almost right off the bat. Mia, the 15-year-old girl occupying that frame, takes a little bit longer to get to know, though.
Director Andrea Arnold laces this confrontational tale of emerging adulthood and sexuality with vulgar language and despicable acts; more importantly, though, she fills it to the brim with sympathy. Though Mia (Katie Jarvis) lives in the slums of Essex with her abusive mother and equally vulgar sister, she’ll be the first to tell you she’s not a victim. In the first ten minutes, she headbutts a girl just for having the nerve to argue back at her and she attempts to free an imprisoned horse from a band of gypsies.
Julia Directed by: Erick Zonca Written by: Roger Bohbot & Michael Collins Starring: Tilda Swinton, Aidan Gould, Saul Rubinek, and Kate de Castillo
Make no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Tilda Swinton is one of the finest actresses of her generation. So sublime and brilliant is her technique, that even in a dud like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe she manages to give you something to watch. And then there is Julia, a movie that is actually good, where she inhabits the heart and soul of her character, leaving you stunned, disgusted, and many other things by the time the credits roll.
As the title character, Swinton plays an alcoholic nothing hired by a neurotic Mexican neighbor (Kate de Castillo) to kidnap her son and reunite them across the border. This plot seems like something you’d see in a glitzy Hollywood caper, and the characters in Roger Bohbot and Michael Collins’ screenplay seem conscious of it. When Julia tries to explain the scheme to some of her confidants, they look at her like she’s a fool, which she is.