Wednesday, July 26, 2006
#17 (Male Performances in Review 2000-2004)
What a marvelous performance this is by Campbell Scott, who is so immersed in the world of this unsympathetic cad and - more importantly - unconcerned with making him lovable or even likable. So impressively sturdy are the words of Dylan Kidd's screenplay that Scott wisely avoids acting towards any redemption and instead is marvelously always in the moment, in the now. Roger Dodger is a rather fantastic movie on its own terms (it has simply improved with time), but it is impossible to imagine it hitting the same highs without the talents of Scott in the lead. Without his cutting sense of humour and sardonic quips, the film would have significantly lacked the same degree of "bite". Jesse Eisenberg, Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley (of Showgirls infamy) all deliver appealing, capable performances, but I'm convinced that it is Scott who keeps them on their toes, drawing out their very best efforts. Scott is an actor who I love to watch, mostly because I can observe him thinking out his character motivations. He clearly experiences and processes them, as opposed to going through the motions to get to the next plot shift. Particularly in this film, you can see the inner machinery running smoothly, fitting pieces together and formulating a fool-proof offensive. Just like Eisenberg's Nick, we are in awe of this man's flirtatious sway over women, and amazed at how he has his formula down to an exact science. Scott is magnetic in this film; his Roger is suave and alluring on the exterior, but bitter and alienated on the inside. Scott's challenge in this film is to let us experience these sides of his complex character without making us aware of such exposure. And - even more difficult - humanize Roger in spite of his appalling behaviour in influencing his impressionable nephew. Without a doubt, Scott brilliantly succeeds in every regard.