Flirting with Acting

Thandie Newton and Nicole Kidman in "Flirting"

Great acting is two parts craft, one part creativity, and unknown parts the essence of the actor. Anyone can act. Many can entertain. But, only the great can captivate. Dustin Hoffman and Daniel Day-Lewis are thus great actors. Perhaps the best example that illustrates all three qualities of acting would be the late Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. I can say this because I am attached to  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective stories just the same as a Trekkie is attached to Star Trek. Thus, I am highly critical of any rendering of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories into film.  Faithfulness to the original is paramount and any deviation both in story telling and portrayal of Holmes would not be tolerated. Yet, Jeremy Brett’s greatness came from the fact that he transcended Conan Doyle’s very descriptive words and storytelling. Brett was clearly a master craftsman, having been trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, with a long career in stage and film acting. I would have never imagined Sherlock Holmes the way Brett brought him to life: Impatient, Unforgiving, Singularly Focused,  Obsessed and most of all, Dark! Brett was a creative genius. Moreover, the essence of Jeremy Brett was in Sherlock Holmes. I thoroughly loved it! I was captivated. What does any of this have to do with Thandie, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, Thandie in “Flirting” is Jeremy Brett in “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Yes, she was that good! Perhaps what struck me most was not her mastery of the craft or her creativity, but the infusion of the essence of Thandie into Thandiwe. Listen to Thandie speak about her life history and experiences in her TED Talk and you will understand.  This is the first glimpse I will give you into a movie that by chance or, more likely, by masterful design, perfectly brought together all the elements of movie making magic: story, setting, costume, music, cast, acting, script writing, filming, directing and so much more. Certainly “Flirting” had good competition in 1991 from the likes of “Dances with Wolves” and “Good Fellas,” but I cannot imagine why Thandie didn’t even get a nomination for her marvelous performance that was honest and unrestrained, and that surely came from deep within. It is hard to do justice to any great work of art so it will take me some time to finish my complete post on “Flirting”, but hopefully this brief introduction will nudge you in the right direction the next time you are searching for a movie.

About Sav

Guest author and hubby of Jeen.
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