Cameron Kelsall: A mutual friend of ours loves to imitate Katharine Hepburnfrom a television commercial he remembers for this adaptation. “It’s a wun-dah-fuhl play about a family,” he intones in his most palsied voice. “I play the muh-thuh!” It never fails to make me laugh, and in many ways, it captures the less successful elements of Hepburn’s Amanda Wingfield. But the overall production, including her performance, also offers more to appreciate than I remembered.
David Fox: I know exactly what (and who) you mean! Everything about this project has that “Miss Katharine Hepburn” sense of sanctity about it, including the way it’s filmed, regularly positioning her centrally in two-shots for scenes where the real focus should be the other actor. That said, she’s better than I remembered, including making a reasonable attempt at a Southern accent. And, of course, there is distinctive star quality to burn, as well as interpretive intelligence. This comes within a year of one of Hepburn’s most effective late-career film performances, as Agnes in A Delicate Balance, where she’s often superb. But in TGM, too, she seems like New England gentry. That’s perfect for Albee but all wrong here. And cruel as it is to point out, her tremulousness is a constant distraction. The moment where she says to Laura, “You just have a little defect, hardly noticeable, even!” while shaking like a desiccated branch in a 12-point earthquake registers as the darkest kind of camp…
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Categories: Criticism, Movies, PARTERRE BOX, Theater
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