I’ve written about how much I love her in THE DEPARTED, JOSHUA, and DOWN TO THE BONE. Now I’ve just returned from seeing her in QUID PRO QUO and I can say it officially. This girl is the James Dean of our time. She is the Brando circa WILD ONE, the Monty Clift circa FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. She has that sort of poetry and intensity. But since she’s a girl it’s not the same kind of intensity and that’s why the critics–their faculties dulled by overexposure to Will Ferrell movies–fail to adequately describe her brilliance. They merely mention it in passing, as if planting a marker in the sand and promising to return with more adjectives in the very near future.
Perhaps this is because what she is doing hasn’t been properly written about. It hasn’t been “covered” time and again by gushing writers following in each others steps like footprints through a snowy hedge maze.
While the aforementioned brooding 1950s males won the admiration of intellectuals and critics by showing a nation of buttoned-down, gray-suited commie-bashers that you could be a very tough soldier and cry at the same time, Farmiga does is the feminine equivalent; she oscillates on an antithetical frequency between deer-in-the-headlights vulnerability and steely, lusty intellectual counterattack – she’s like a beautiful sea anemone that breathes out into a beautiful bloom then breathes in and sucks up any fish drawn too close by the beauty.
The lady seems to have no shortage of work, so I’m not saying “notice her!” I’m just pointing out the way critics are overly cautious in elevating her to the ranks of the greats. Is it that they have no confidence in their own opinions any more? Does the critic of today reserve their bandwagon praise for safe bets like Scorsese documentaries or Eastwood-directed Boston crime dramas?
In the NY TIMES, Stephen Holden calls Farmiga a “slinky blond [sic] bombshell” and a “Veronica Lake-style femme fatal.” He later notes that:
Ms. Farmiga’s performance might be described as radioactive , her character, in which she uncovers many conflicting emotional layers, has a glow-in-the-dark phosphorescence that is sexy, but also scary.
. That’s a good start, but then Holden immediately zips off to another point… as if “sexy but also scary” was all he could muster. Tongue-tied by Farmiga’s radioactive phosphorescence, he resorts to the most fundamental of adjectives.
On the other hand, Rex Reed notes that: “Ms. Farmiga’s range and diversity never cease to astonish.” and his headline proclaims “Another fabulous performance by the under appreciated Vera Farmiga.” But that’s all he really says about her in the article, preferring to delve into plot minutiae. Still, we like Rex Reed; the man was in MYRA BRECKENRIDGE, for Christ Sakes. As far as I’m concerned, he has a lifetime ticket to say whatever he wants. Though he’s often wrong.
I guess what I’m pointing out is that when the people who write about film for a living are too busy to capture the brilliance of someone like Farmiga in writing, then not only do they do a disservice to a medium they profess (presumably) to love, but she will remain “under appreciated” until they do give her the ink and ten dollar metaphors she deserves. Until then she will be like some kick ass sleeping beauty. They need to stop bashing at Will Ferrell and bemoaning torture porn long enough to realize that, otherwise they are like the parent who is so tired of cleaning up after the bad kids they never notice or praise the good ones.
Sadly, in our splintered, dumbed-down times, people have forgotten that poetry and beauty can be added to whatever they do, be it film criticism or floor-mopping. This beauty and poetry then goes out and comments on and enhances the work of all who encounter it. This is what is done in the art world all the time, but in the gutless world of mainstream film criticism, how rare and few are those who will stick their neck out and rise to the occasion when some pretty young actress breaks herself into the top levels of the canon, sending the old men scurrying behind their James Dean death masks!? Who will brave the establishment’s smug dismissals, their snide tones, Pavlovianly ingrained in us from birth to cause all but the staunchest to resort to droolish back-pedaling? Who amongst them, amongst you, shall rise to proclaim this hottie a legend in her own time!??!?! RISE NOW from your comfy screening room slumber and try… try to fully APPRECIATE!
FARMIGA YOU WILL BE AVENGED!