The Inglorious Art of Emotion

12.17.2013

While not a rabid Tarantino fanboy, I have gotten immense pleasure from every film he’s put together thus far. The speed at which Mr. Pink’s gun spits at the cops (not at real people), Christopher Walken’s deadpan watch monologue, De Niro’s inability to hold his smoke, O-Ren Ishii’s violent animated upbringing, the squeals of Stuntman Mike…

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Quentin’s films are so cinematic, I often get giddy soaking in his appreciation for the craft (not to be confused with The Craft). But none of them had hit me on an emotional level before Inglourious Basterds. The genuinely nerve-wracking opening 20 minutes (which could stand alone as a separate short and still be my favourite), the thrilling card game with the icy Major Hellstrom, our nasty introduction to The Bear Jew. And the king of them all, Shoshanna’s poker-face during her harrowing strudel taste-test. Good Lord.

The scene is manageable to begin with; we’re a little nervous when Hans Landa takes our heroine aside for casual questioning, but we’re quickly comforted by how well she handles herself – Mélanie Laurent’s stony eyes were very well cast. But once the meeting is over and she’s left alone, she lets out a breath that absolutely crushes me.

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Her expression is one of dizzying relief, and the actress conquers the near-impossible task of making this viewer feel exactly what her character is feeling. When she gasps, I gasp - suddenly realising that I’ve been holding my breath for the past 10 minutes. Her character is so strong-willed, that seeing her break – even for a minute – is devastating. Phew.

I’ll never be as pretty as Ms. Laurent and am destined to a life this side of the camera. But one of these days I’m going to combine animation and the art of emotion to deliver a blow that hefty. That’s a bingo.


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