Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shoulda Coulda Wouldas

My first post for this tag!  I suppose it needs a little explanation.  I'm starting a section where I discuss which film roles I would've liked to see Meryl play.  She'd certainly be incredible in almost any role, so we therefore need to have some guidelines as to which films are eligible for selection.  I'm going to restrict my choices to those roles in which Meryl could have feasibly been cast based on her age when the film was produced.  With that said, I think you may be surprised by my choices. Others are likely going to be obvious selections from performances by Glen Close, Jessica Lange, or Susan Sarandon, for example.   I think this will be one of my favorite sections.  Let's start!

To inaugurate this fun section, I've chosen the role of Stands With a Fist in 1990's Dances With Wolves.  The performance garnered Mary McDonnell an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. I have for a long time thought that this role had many qualities that would've been fun to see Meryl interpret.  One is the obvious aspect of language.  Half the lines of this character are spoken in Lakota.  Not exactly a frequently heard tongue on the big screen. Stands With a Fist is actually a white woman who was taken in by the Lakota people when, as a little girl, her family is killed by a group of Pawnees.  She acts as a sort of translator between Kicking Bird and Lt. John Dunbar (Kevin Costner).  McDonnell had the challenge of making us believe that she's digging deep into her memory to recover the English language of her (tragic) childhood.  No doubt a tricky negotiation considering how painful the memories would've been.  That, coupled with the broken/accented speech, seems very much in Meryl's wheelhouse (not to impugn McDonnell's brilliant work, however).  See for yourself:

I've loved this movie since I was a kid.  I made Joe watch it once but he found it overall slow and the voice-overs too much. Basically he hated it.  Watching it again as an adult I get that, but it holds good memories and reminds me of time spent at my parents' cabin where my dad and I used to watch it.  I can recall one year on the drive up there I started dozing off and he scared the shit out of me by yelling "tatanka!" when he noticed five buffalo on a farm.  Good times.

Even though McDonnell was nominated in the supporting category for this role, had Meryl been in it, I can see them campaigning for her in lead.  Streep is a much more prominent actress, and Stands With a Fist is in a lot of this three-hour-long epic Western.  It makes me wonder if Meryl ever noticed it, was considered for it, and if so, if she would've done it.  After all, it was hugely successful at the box office and the Oscars.  Maybe the role would've been small potatoes for her at that point in her career, coming off the most celebrated decade any actor has ever had.  It would be fun to ask her about roles like this; if they were ever on her radar.  The best we can do is to have fun speculating!  Until Meryl calls me, of course.