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Soldier’s Girl

15 Oct

Soldier’s Girl — Directed by Frank Pierson — a young soldier garrisoned in the South falls in love with a transgendering nightclub performer and pays the price. 112 minutes color 2003

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Ladies and Gentlemen, raise your hands to applaud! We have before us in Lee Pace one of the great actors of our time. Here he plays Calpurnia a male not yet female. At first, I thought, “Oh dear, he’s too tall, his face is too long, he’s too this, he’s too that,” but this stopped almost at once and never returned. For the actor has found what this woman wanted for herself, and in doing that, the character comes alive and never falters. That’s just the actor’s job, you say? Not quite so, for the realm of discovery for an actor may enter depths unfamiliar to him and generate truths unexpected in him. And that’s what we are in the presence of here, I believe, an actor taken over by another human being and being the vehicle for her. What Calpurnia wants is to be alluring at all times, to be fascinating at all times, to promise sexuality at all times. She may have sacrificed her life for this, that we may not judge, but she does it by displaying female helplessness always. The pitch is Take Care Of Me And All This Femininity Will Be Yours. Indeed, she is a night club performer of it, but in a triumph of shyness — shyness not brazenness — for this is not a camp performance, neither in Pace nor in Calpurnia. We are in another realm. Spotlights blaze on demureness. What a paradox! But that’s just an actor’s job, right? Here we have an actor whose natural gifts are so obvious, the main one being his eyes. Looking into them, both as he plays Calpurnia and as he remains in character in the interview of him, one can see how connected he is — and this is everything. What a gift for an actor to be born with! I first saw him in Miss Pettigrew with Frances McDormand, and was stunned, by his willingness to show male love for a female outright. His performance was true as true. Just as it is true here.

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