Jessica Lange, Music Box

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pauline Kael

"....Costa-Gavras provides a low-key, controlled atmosphere, and Jessica Lange fills it with passion that's begging for release. In a recent interview, she was quoted as saying, "I love the sound of the cello." That's her emotional sound in this role: intelligent, searching, womanly.

"Everyone I know wishes we could see Lange in more fluffy-blonde comedy roles. (We long for another Tootsie.) But she has been developing a deeper range. Her character here doesn't have the dimensions of her Frances Farmer, but within the limits of a melodrama she verges on the astounding. Lange is one of those star performers--Diane Keaton is another--whose characters don't necessarily come on as stars. Ann Talbot is a brunette in plain business suits, and her being slightly worn makes her beauty more accessible. Her curly hair suggests a bad perm; it sticks out in funny ways and has no shine, no highlights. (It's as if there were no hairdresser on the set.) Ann is a busy woman with other things to think about, and we get to see the workings of her mind. The competitive smartness of the opposing lawyers is always part of the drama of good courtroom movies, and Ann . . . springs traps with crisp efficiency.

"....The final plot developments (after the music box makes its appearance) are over-extended, and they feel fake. The focus of the material goes wrong: what we're watching is suddenly too much about Ann's suffering--movie-star suffering.

"....What counts is the Old World, New World texture that Jessica Lange brings to toughness. Her beautiful throatiness counts. She has the will and the technique to take a role that's really no more than a function of melodrama and turn this movie into a cello concerto."

Pauline Kael
The New Yorker, January 8, 1990
Movie Love, pp 240-242

(get little more from last paragraph?)

Stanley Kauffmann

Two losses are involved. Armin Mueller-Stahl [check sp.] . . . . [fill in] . . . . And Jessica Lange plays his daughter, the lawyer, perfectly. After Frances and Country and Far North, Lange has become an actress worth hoping about.

Too bad that a rudderless vessel is carrying these two performances out of reach.

Stanley Kauffmann
New Republic
February 5, 1990