Thursday, June 28, 2012
Best Actress 1985: Anne Bancroft in Agnes Of God
Anne Bancroft received her 5th and her last Oscar nomination for playing Mother Miriam Ruth in Agnes Of God.
Agnes Of God is actually a really interesting story which really surprised me. Things start to go downhill towards the end, but I found Jane Fonda captivating, the script very strong(Mostly), and the atmosphere of the film perfect. Let me just say here the sets are fantastic. I loved the convent and the beautiful way that the nuns live in it. It is about a physologist who goes to find out about the murder of a baby. The baby was killed by Agnes, one of the nuns there, and it is discovered that Agnes is very naive and maybe even insane. The Mother Superior is mistrusting of her and wants to block her from seeing Agnes. The two clash swords and the movie is about what they uncover together.
Anyway, Anne Bancroft got a Best Actress nomination for this film. Frankly, I feel it was a filler nomination, not that it was totally undeserved. I think Jane Fonda gave the stronger, more layered performance. But given it is Bancroft who was nominated and not Fonda., I'll proceed with my review. Anne gives a good, though not great performance.Miriam is a tightly wound character who is a bag of secrets.Bancroft plays her like this, and she does it with the utmost control.Of course, this is the way it should be played, and Bancroft does it well, but I felt there was a dissconnection with her performance. In her scenes with Fonda, she often outbursts and the control goes away. But there's something that doesn't work about it. It's well played, but they never connect.It seems as if the movie didn't know what to do with the character. There are moments where Anne seems to be employing comical mannerisms, or slightly comical that is. But they simply don't work and are a misstep in her performance. I feel that there are so many facets to this character, but the movie doesn't know how to handle it and Bancroft doesn't either.
That said, there are some great scenes. In the first really heated confrontation between them,Bancroft makes a funny joke and after that they cut to a scene between them in the churchyard. This, to me, is the best scene in the film. Both women are connecting and we see Miriam's true self for the 1st time. We also see how much she cares for Agnes, given she believes SPOILER that she is an angel(Although it is never quite clear how serious she is about this). This is the true reason that Bancroft hid her secrets from Fonda. She's afraid of losing her. The performance gets better as the film goes on, and there are some wonderful scenes with her and Fonda that show their strength as an onscreen pair.
Overall, Anne Bancroft gives a good performance. It just doesn't go in the direction she should have gone. It's close to a four, but I give her