I've been thinking a lot since seeing the film last night.
You know what I especially like about TJ's performance?
How natural it is.
He has such a talent for embodying a character in the most natural way, where you don't feel like you're watching TJ play himself in various roles. Instead, you get exactly what the character is feeling and experiencing. His approach is so genuine and honest. I love that.
Especially when it comes to emotionally charged scenes.
Especially ones played by men. Oftentimes, it seems male actors are afraid to 'go deep' when it comes to emotional scenes involving crying. You watch their performance and you feel removed from it, because it seems like they're holding back. Sometimes that fits the emotionally stunted personality of the character, but sometimes it simply feels obvious that the actor isn't going where he needs to go, you know what I mean? It feels like there's a block, and you're not being let in. Like he's either too afraid to go there or doesn't know how to get there. Same with anger scenes -- they go to a certain place, but it's often overwrought to the point of melodrama or ridiculousness, and you find yourself eye-rolling instead of feeling the fury the character is feeling.
Not with TJ.
In that confrontational scene with Lovell's father, TJ managed to capture all the complex emotions that were understandably roiling through Lovell in that moment: confusion (where the hell were you), realization (you fell asleep again and it cost me everything, how could you do this to me), rage, warring conflict (wanting SO MUCH to hurt his father for what he's done but at the same time it's his father so he can't do it), and the deepest despair. It was all there, and it was deeply felt and expressed.
I never once felt like I was watching TJ "act" in that scene. Instead, everything fit perfectly. I was right there with him, feeling his character's shattered heart and anger, wanting him to hit his father but understanding the pull back and the anguish about it all, and needing the release in some way. What a relief it was when he smashed that windshield! I didn't want him to kill his father, because that would be awful and elevate things to an even worse level than it already was, but at the same time I needed him to release all that bottled-up emotion because it had built to such a tension that it needed to be expressed fully or the scene would have been a letdown.
In lesser hands, that scene wouldn't have worked as well as it did. But TJ went there. He went to the ugly places his character needed to reach in order to express all the emotions needed for that scene. It wasn't just one emotion coursing through Lovell; it was so many things, and TJ expressed them all beautifully. It was a terrifying scene to watch, but it was perfect. TJ was perfect.
The more I thought about it after the film was over, the more impressed with him I felt. He did a fantastic job. And not just in that scene but in all the scenes. The emotions that his character felt, the confusion, the exhaustion, the energy, the love, the loss.... he managed to express it all SO WELL.
Hat's off to TJ. I cannot applaud him hard enough for the work he did throughout this film. He was amazing.
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I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating [& sharing their experience]. I don't care if it's a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music… I think this world would be unlivable without art. ~ S. Soderbergh