Monday, September 5, 2011

Best Actress 1971: Jane Fonda in Klute

Jane Fonda received her 2nd nomination and won for playing Bree Daniels, a call-girl who doesn't really know or like herself, and is addicted to what she does because it is the only thing that makes her feel secure. But she is being stalked by a man who beat her up previously, and a detective named John Klute (Donald Sutherland) who is investigating the disappearance of a man who is in some ways connected to the case, comes to investigate her and the two begin a strange, yet profound relationship.

No matter what her political motivations are, there's no doubt Jane Fonda is a fantastic actress. She was terrfic in They Shoot Horses Don't They? two years earlier and wildily impressed me in Julia which came out 6 years after this performance. Bur here, she outdoes even Julia, and it's no wonder she won the Oscar.

Bree Daniels is, in someways, a pathetic character: She has no self-confidence, and no self-respect, and she does what she does so she can feel like she has some control over her life. But we can't help but like her, even love her. Bree is not stupid: She's actually quite intelligent, but her feelings get in the way of doing the right thing because she finds it so difficult.

Fonda shows the transformation of Bree brilliantly: She starts out quite insecure and sad, but changes as she sees that Klute cares about her, and how her life-style is so dangerous and evil, and how Klute's love or affection for her is so shocking, yet so meaningful to her. Her therapy sessions are amazing scenes for Fonda, because she shows us the person behind Bree's facade: A vulnerable, confused, and self-conscious woman whose life is taking it's toll on her.

When I mentioned that Bree is somewhat of a loveable character, it is because how well Fonda plays her sarcastic line banters with Sutherland. She just pulls it off so well.

Jane Fondas is subtle, complicated, and terrific as Bree, a role which could have gone horribly wrong in another actress's hands. She gets