Sunday, May 03, 2009

One Scene Wonders

Jason Bateman: State of Play

I went into Kevin MacDonald's "State Of Play" with some reservations. Based on an original BBC series (which I really, really liked), here was a movie forced to condense five hours into a slim two. The patience, details, and room to breathe that the miniseries format provides might get lost in translation. And, yes, while the latest Hollywood version does lose some of its steam, it's still a solidly crafted effort that manages to deliver a few sucker punches to the now antiquated world of paper press and generate some nice performances from all involved.

But something with gravity happened in the final third of the film- the two scene brilliance of Jason Bateman as Dominic Foy, a sexually ambiguous, flamboyant and snide PR rep who helps put the pieces in place of the swirling narrative. It's not only a fun performance in the beginning, but Bateman turns on a dime and reveals a character full of rage and guilt that comes seeping out in a dingy motel room. If Viola Davis can garner a supporting actress nomination for two stellar scenes in last year's "Doubt", there's certainly room for a potential nod for Bateman.

The character of Foy served as one of the more intriguing portions of the original series. Hunted down and eventually interviewed by a tabloid reporter (James McAvoy) working the death of Anne Collins independently, the strand served as a diametric collision of methods and ideas between 'real' journalism and trash press. Director MacDonald keeps the emotional power of the reveal intact, but its Bateman who elevates the core of Foy into something genuinely tragic and visceral. In no short words, this is a performance that defines exactly what supporting acting should look like.

1 comment:

Fletch said...

Huzzah! I am DEFINITELY on the Bateman for Best Supporting Actor train.

I didn't love or hate State of Play, but Bateman's impact on it can't be overestimated. He took a film that was starting to peter out and injected life into it like an adrenaline shot. And it was great to see the comedic performance of the year in a film that, to that point, was really humorless.