Saturday, April 05, 2008

WORST MONTH EVER: Worst Acting (fainting)

Ever since women were allowed to act (I think the law was signed shortly before The Medea came out), women have been fainting on stage and screen. The faint is a versatile movement, as it can gain sympathy from the audience and also garner laughs. It's also one of the easiest actions for an actor, as all it requires is to roll your eyes back and fall backwards -- presumably into a pile of hay or small children (extra points for putting your forearm to your head). Fainting is even easy for children: in preschool I drew raves from classmates and teachers alike for my wildly exaggerated faint/death as the villainous troll in a brief production of Billy Goats Gruff.

For these reasons and more, it comes as a surprise that Kim Basinger fails so miserably in her attempt to faint in Batman. Basinger's non-faint is the appropriate end to the worst scene in the movie: an awkward and too-long bit in Vicki Vale's apartment where we see Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne trying (failing) to act tough, and a confrontation with the Joker that seems forced. As the Joker and his cronies leave Vale's apartment, they leave a box for her that contains a jack-in-the-box-like hand holding dead flowers. I thought I would be able to illustrate the resulting faint with screencaps, but it doesn't nearly do it justice. The main problem with Basinger here is that rather than fall backwards or to the side, she merely crumples to the floor like a puppet. Her reaction is also not that of surprise, but annoyance -- "this is going to make me faint? OK.." Again, these screencaps only paint part of the terrible picture, to grasp the true terribleness of this faint, you need to see it in the movie.

Maybe one of the Batdance Vicki Vales would have supplied a more realistic faint.


Joseph B. said...

Great stuff, Adam. I posted a quick respose to this thread at another blog I contribute to,

Adam Ross said...

Thanks for joining in Joseph. Peggy Sue Got Married, and perhaps Wild at Heart, are the only movies I can think of where Nic's limited abilities work. His next movie, Bangkok Dangerous, looks to continue this trend *shudder*.

Joe Valdez said...


I like Kim Basinger. She's had an interesting career from centerfold to brief run as a cinematic sex goddess in the late 1980s to an actress who won a deserved Oscar. I also appreciate how she's remained so low key in the media throughout her career and maintained composure during her public divorce from Alec Baldwin, who acts like a maroon any time a reporter comes near him.

Oh, okay, this article was about a bad fainting scene. It's a Tim Burton movie! It's supposed to look comical!

I do hope you devote some ink to Winona Ryder in this (bad) month.