Saturday, March 14, 2015

Anatomy Of A Performance: Emma Stone in Birdman (2014)

Hello, Bloggers, it has been a while since I have done an Anatomy Of A Performance segment. But for today's segment, I will be going into another Oscar-nominated turn: Emma Stone as Sam in Birdman.

Now, some have complained that Stone's performance is a little too "actress-y", but to be fair, they were filming in long takes and Stone had to memorize her lines without screwing up so that they wouldn't have to continuously do the take over. Apparently, they were keeping track of who made the most mistakes and Stone had the highest amount. But she uses her rapid line delivery to her advantage like in her Oscar clip where she "chews out" Michael Keaton's character.

When you watch her monologue, notice how her character's acid tongue parallels that of her eyes which show such fury as they start bulging once the camera gets closer to her face. Yet right after her tangent, the camera immediately pulls away from her and as Stone approaches Keaton, she manages to say sorry withour ever actually having to say it. She still does it all with her eyes.

That scene is essentially the apex for her performance throughout the film. As Stone's character uses her acidic tongue, she plays it for comedic and dramatic effect. But in her quiet moments, she reveals that behind her eyes that carry such fury, there is both doubt and vulnerability. Plus, since her character is the protagonist's daughter and personal assistant, Stone manages to use those two traits as different layers. For example, as she begins her tangent, she becomes the "personal assistant", then immediately switches into the concerned daughter as soon as her tangent ends, facing the floor in shame.

This is perhaps the most multi-dimensional role of Stone's career as of now. One that not only plays to her strengths as a comedian, but her dramatic strengths as well. While her role is pretty showy, with her big monologue and such, her performance is still a rather potent mix of the obvious and the subtle.

If you agree or disagree with my analysis of Emma Stone's turn in Birdman, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!