SEVEN films in 6 months?!
So a year ago at TIFF, I saw The Debt (Aug 31). It was fine, but the fact it’s taken a year to see the light of day with a general release in North America just last week tells you all you need to know. But at the time I thought the unknown red-head charged with playing the young Helen Mirren was one of the best things about it. I didn’t write that in my review, but you trust me when I say there wasn’t a whole lot else to take away from the picture. The director John Madden said he was looking for a fresh faced unknown for the role but now admits “that strategy seems to have been blown out of the water” as, by accident or design, it’s now impossible to escape Jessica Chastain.
Earlier in the summer, we were treated to her part as Brad Pitt’s other half in the dreamy subconscious journey that was Tree of Life (May 26th).
She doesn’t get a lot of dialogue (does anyone really?!), but her maternal aura provides the perfect balance to the hard, cold father played by Mr. Jolie. The film was hotly anticipated but ended up leaving a lot of people feeling cold, though almost everyone agreed on the power of the performances of Chastain, Pitt and Hunter McCracken. If only they’d hired Brett Ratner to make a real film out of it.
I went into The Help (Aug 10th) without even knowing Chastain played a part in it. When I saw her name in the closing credits I had to do a double-check to try work out who the hell she was. When you hide away that vivacious red mane you’re going to confuse people dammit!
So while enough has been written about The Help‘s performance at the box office and the subtlety and power of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer’s very different performances, Chastain’s Celia Foote never gets many column inches.
Of the white “privileged” roles in the film, she’s actually one of the most believable with the other whities, led by Bryce Dallas Howard’s Hilly Holbrook, all straying a little too close to the caricature, eh, fence. As Foote’s story gets revealed Chastain manages to draw sympathy and humour from an extremely limited role. Let’s hope that when awards season rolls around, the bit players in The Help, like Chastain and Allison Janey, are not forgotten. Oh and can they just give them the Golden Globe for best drama ensemble now please?
Take Shelter is out over here at the tail end of the month (Sept. 30) and sees her playing opposite Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire). He sees weird stuff. She supports him. Or, in the words of the official blurb… “Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.”
“I wanna be a rodeo star-turned detective! Come on, you’re meant to be my agent! Get me the roles I really want…”. And so enter Texas Killing Fields (Oct 7th). Our hero is now fighting crime. Advance screenings were set up for audiences a year ago, and so God knows what has been happening since then, but reviews were decent and the principal cast of Sam Worthington, Chloe Moretz and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are all usually worthwhile.
Plot summary says… “In the Texas bayous, a local homicide detective teams up with a cop from New York City to investigate a series of unsolved murders.” We can be hopeful though as first-time director Ami Canaan Mann has one hell of a CV. She’s nabbed experience as Robert Redford’s intern on A River Runs Through It and a screenplay credit on the Nancy Drew TV movie. The big time.
Lazy-ass Jessy is then taking almost seven weeks away from the red carpet as her next picture, Coriolanus doesn’t hit screens until December 2nd.
This is an adaptation of a Shakespearen tragedy and sees Chastain in the role of wife of war general
Voldomort Ralph Fiennes and playing opposite this is Sparta! Gerard Butler. The film is Voldomort Ralph Fiennes’ first time as a director. Trailer looks veeery promising, if only they ditch that olde-style English, what hack wrote that dialogue?!
And so we come to the final link in the Chastain-chain, Al Pacino’s Wilde Salome (TBA). It premiered at Venice at the weekend and seemed to go down well. Critics haven’t been kind to Pacino in recent years due to a series of cinematic flops, but a positive turn in HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack, for which he won a multitude of awards including an Emmy and a Golden Globe, suggests the tide may be turning.
Wilde Salome is “both an intriguing exploration of Oscar Wilde’s play about the destructive use of sexuality and an intimate self-portrait of the actor/director as he over-extends himself into performing Salome on stage and shooting a film — this film — at the same time.” [Hollywood Reporter].
I saw Salome performed in Dublin’s Gate theatre a few years ago and thought it was a pretty decent adaptation with Fiona O’Shaughnessy in the title role, which is now taken on by Jessica Chastain.
There’s no information on if, and when, this will get a theatrical release but it looks like it will be the seventh (!) film on Chastain’s filmography to hit our screens in the last while. Phenomenal. Hope the agent has negotiated a good percentage cut of profits from the Jessica Chastain Film Festival.
I should add that because she’s so lovely to look at, I would be more than happy to see her put out a film every week. In fact I’d be delighted if she just put out. Full stop.