Friday, September 28, 2012

Small Roles...Big Performances

Yes Ruth, I stole your banner ;-)

Ruth over at FlixChatter has petitioned all who can to participate in an interesting little blog-a-thon intended on bringing some fresh faces to the forefront.  I don’t say this to mean ‘newbies’ but more or less, spark some interest on actors who have delivered standout work and yet don’t have the recognition that others in the industry have.  She called this ‘Small Roles…Big Performances’ and I must say, I’m so happy I stumbled across this today so that I could participate (since today is the deadline!).


I spent all morning debating this one, but at the end of it all, the decision was quite clear.


For me, there are few opening scenes that pack the punch that ‘Inglourious Basterds’ does.  In fact, I can really only think of ‘The Social Network’, and I debated highlighting Rooney Mara’s supporting role in that film as well.  Still, the impact brought on by Denis Menochet’s eyes in this solitary scene is remarkable and incredibly difficult to shake.  It is for that reason that I chose his performance for this blog-a-thon.  I love the idea of highlighting obscure actors who steal our attention in a big way.  Menochet is just one player in a vast ensemble that features an Oscar winning turn by Christoph Waltz, not to mention a body of charismatic players like Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Diane Kruger.  And yet, I continually go back to this one scene and Menochet’s piercing stare.

I wish I could have found the entire scene, because the impact is only heightened when you see it in full, but this particular ‘climax’ really sums up the phrase ‘less is more’ to devastating effect.  Watch his eyes.  They are shaking.  You can feel the tremendous guilt flooding his body, seeping out of his pores in tiny fragments as he takes in all that he is condemning this family to.  He knows that he is murdering them, and yet…what can he do?  What is so moving about this performance is the ability in Menochet to give this man an entire history, an entire backstory with less than ten minutes of screen time.  We feel the full weight of the complexities within his decision.  We understand his hurt, his devastation.  We see his options, as bleak as they are, and know that he has no option that will leave him a whole man.  He will be crushed for the remainder of his days because of this decision and yet, had he made another it would have crushed him equally.


With barely a word, Denis Menochet stole the entire film for me and single handedly created the most ‘real’ and ‘honest’ portrait in a film filled to the brim with characters of all sorts.

7 comments:

  1. Great pick! Not only is it not obvious, but it's also a great performance, indeed. Fortunately, he was credited as a member of the ensemble, so he's 5/5 in awards (including a Critics Choice and a SAG award) according to IMDB. :)

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    1. Yes, he actually makes my personal ballot for this one scene (2009 Fistis to come next month!!!!). Waltz makes it too. This was such a great ensemble.

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    2. Wow. Can't wait for those!

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  2. Brilliant pick!! I didn't know the actor's name but I'm glad I do now. Denis Menochet definitely was fantastic in this gripping scene. It was so intense I actually had to stop pause the movie before continuing! Thanks for taking part in this!

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    1. Thanks Ruth! I'm just happy that I had the chance to. I can't wait to read your write up.

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  3. I agree -- this is a brilliant choice! Thanks for sharing the clip, so I could see this scene again, and I love the way you described it in the paragraph after the clip. You write beautifully. Watching his face in this scene is really agonizing. When I saw the movie, I found it hard not to look away at that point.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! This is one of those performances that almost feels TOO real.

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