Saturday, December 30, 2017

Kathleen Turner peers into the infinite

Friday, April 08, 2005

Andrew Sarris

“…. One esteemed colleague took a poke at Kathleen Turner's performance by expressing a preference for Debra Winger, the original choice for the part…. Winger would undoubtedly have been broader and funnier than Turner, but not nearly as subtly sympathetic and realistic. There are still some problems with the script and some of the casting, but Turner's full-bodied and spirited portrayal of a woman whose mature wisdom cannot overcome her destiny remains for [me?] the performance of the year. The caressing glow Coppola casts on her hair is just an extra dividend.”

Andrew Sarris
Village Voice, October 21, 1986

[Get more Sarris; particularly, find, "[When's the last time they gave someone an Oscar for acting with rather than at her colleagues]" and the bitterness in his comments about Spacek, with Kael's help, winning the New York Film Critics best actress award.]

David Denby

“In Kathleen Turner, Coppola has got an actress who can make the smallest, most vagrant desire or hesitation dramatic. In the opening scenes, set in 1985, Peggy Sue Kelcher goes to a party--the twenty-fifth reunion of her high-school class--and Turner, breathing deeply, mouth dropping in panic, seems a little overwrought. But her distress makes sense soon enough…. [W]hat really bothers her is that the worthless husband she has loved since senior year has left her….

“Coppola mixes romance and satire, and he heightens everything just enough so that her ambiguous reactions (girlish ardor and adult disillusion) have equal emotional weight. He stays so close to Peggy Sue that the whole movie seems to be her superheated dream, and Katleen Turner achieves the amazing feat of playing 18 and 43 at the same time. When Peggy Sue argues with herself over her hopeless husband-to-be (should she marry him all over again?), what she feels and what she knows fight so hard for predominance that she's nearly torn apart by the struggle….”

David Denby
New York, October 20, 1986

David Ansen

What makes this voyage both delightful and haunting is that Peggy Sue's romantic ambivalence is shared by the viewer, who is torn between rooting for her to dump Charlie and to reunite with him. Turner and Cage are a provocatively mismatched pair. Her high-strung, full-bodied performance is a marvel: funny and moving, she suggests a woman literally [?] brimming over with barely contained feelings. . . .

David Ansen
Newsweek, October 6, 1986

Molly Haskell

“…. [T]he emphasis is on inner discovery and acceptance: the realization that the road not taken--becoming the muse/mistress of the dreamboat writer she knew in high school--was probably not worth taking anyway, and that being a middle-aged mother in the 'eighties is a nice place to be.

“Because the relationship between Turner and Cage remains undeveloped, the resolution is unsatisfying. But the movie glows from the presence of Kathleen Turner. In her richest performance yet, she blends the poignancy of a Capra heroine with the tough, sardonic insight of an 'eighties woman.”

Molly Haskell
Vogue, November 1986

Pauline Kael

“…. The plot lacks the mechanical ingenuity of Back to the Future…, yet the characters are almost as superficial. Coppola's efforts to bring depth to this material that has no depth make the picture seem groggy. It's as if he were trying to reach through a veil of fog, trying to direct the actors to bring something out of themselves when neither he nor anyone else knows what's wanted.

“Kathleen Turner gives her role a good try, but she's miscast, or, rather, it's an unwritten part--Peggy Sue doesn't exist except to worry about marrying the right man. And Turner looks self-conscious and embarrassed. She always seems to be doing something telegraphic--to be acting, acting. For most of the movie, she's supposed to be not quite eighteen, and she's trying to act young--one of the toughest things to do on camera. It's especially tough for her, because she's a womanly big woman poured into tight teen-age-schoolgirl dresses. I don't know why Coppola or the writers didn't slip in a few lines of dialogue to turn her height and fleshiness to a sexy, comic advantage. Couldn't her boyfriend have contrasted her with her petite-little-nothing schoolmates? The movie never acknowledges that she looks different from the other girls, and so we're acutely aware of it. (Turner is really good only when the joke is that Peggy Sue is much too experienced to put up with the behavior expected of her as a teen-ager.) Nicolas Cage isn't a facile actor; he works to get into his character, and he brings something touching and desperate to Charlie the small-town hotshot. But, matched with Turner's Peggy Sue, the rawboned Charlie is uncouth and callow, and his voice is funny, as if Daffy Duck had crawled into his mouth and got his teeth jammed up….”

Pauline Kael
The New Yorker, October 20, 1986
Hooked, p 220

Stephen Schiff

Stephen Schiff did not review Peggy Sue Got Married (that I have found), but in a year-end review, Schiff "nominated" Turner for a Best Actress award, placing her fifth behind Bonnaire, Webb, Keaton, and Griffith (none of whom, besides Turner herself, actually was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award).

David Thomson

“Peggy Sue . . . is Kathleen Turner. The makeup department may insist they did an extensive and subtle job to help her look both older and younger than Turner's actual age. I couldn't detect it. Instead, I felt that Turner (who is 32) looks far too young to have her daughter in the movie (Helen Hunt, 22), and impossibly mature to have Barbara Harris as her mother in the falshbacks . . . It would be a tough stretch for any actress--the best solution might have been not makeup but the sort of romantic stylization that Coppola often excels in. As it is, he has elected the "extra" comedy of having a 32-year-old plopped down in her own 18-year-old life, with nobody remarking on the disparity…. [I just assumed everyone else saw Peggy Sue differently than we did; it was an illusion.]

“…. Peggy Sue is glum that her marriage has come apart, and Kathleen Turner works hard to involve us. She is winning, until we see that her husband is Nicolas Cage--like Newman and Cruise [in The Color of Money], Turner and Cage shouldn't be in the same film, much less as lovers. There's no chemistry between them; there's not even a shared approach to performance. Turner cannot conceal her sophistication, her resources of irony, intelligence and warmth. Cage, on the other hand, is far less accomplished an actor. He drifts and blurs in front of our eyes; he seems to believe in the sincerity of uncertainty and improvisation. He looks so unsuitable for her that we are ready to be witnesses at the divorce. It's as if Myrna Loy in The Thin Man had Ronald Reagan as her Nick Charles….

“It's nothing against Turner to wonder if [Debra] Winger might have been better as Peggy Sue. Winger is a wilder comedienne; she is less assured and therefore more vulnerable than Turner. Her style could have made contact with Cage's real age. More helpful still, her looks are more romantically unstable, and her temperament is more inclined to inhabit the craziness of the situation here.

“Of course, we don't enjoy that wealth of opportunity. We have a situation in which a Debra Winger--the best young film actress around--ends up in the mortifying Legal Eagles and not in Peggy Sue. That's another measure of how difficult it is to sustain coherent careers today. I can't guess what reasons of back injury, deal making, arrogance and insecurity put Winger in one film and not in another. Hindsight casing is easier for everyone. But Peggy Sue needed a touch of screwball, and Winger's comic potential has not yet been tapped.”

David Thomson
California Magazine, Nov. 1986

"…. In Peggy Sue Got Married . . . there was the real burden of having to be nice and sweet, without too much irony, for a director who has a poor record with women on screen. She was also a late replacement for Debra Winger….”

A Biographical Dictionary of Film,
Third Edition (1994), p 760

David Edelstein

“…. Often, [Coppola's] camera seems detached, unwilling to enter a scene and push for stronger emotion. It's as if he's forgotten how to frame characters so we can peer into their souls; or else, having decided to direct Peggy Sue and not DIRECT Peggy Sue, he just can't be bothered to dig around…. [I felt able to’ look into Peggy Sue's soul’.]

“…. Kathleen Turner, less glib than usual, plays Peggy Sue in a gutsy-old-broad style--world-weariness and hurt have etched themselves into her personality--and the pleasure comes in watching her wake up and take the plunge into life again. It's a brilliant idea--the mature, disillusioned '80s woman in the body of a '60s high school girl--and even if the movie itself isn't magical, the concept carries it….

“…. On its own terms, [Cage's] performance is daft and endearing, but it's a hollow stunt--weirdness for weirdness's sake, Peggy Sue be damned. Cage never inhabits the same universe as Turner, who has to fire herself up over him in a void. That takes its toll on her work, too. Coppola (Cage's uncle) should never have let it happen….”

David Edelstein
Village Voice, date ?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005