Adrien Brody – Nowhere to Go But Down

Oscar to…definitely not Oscar

I feel sorry for Adrien Brody these days.  Yeah, I’m sure he has no use for my pity, but it’s genuine.  This is a guy who won – legitimately – an Academy Award for Best Actor.  And now he’s doing crappy horror movies.  What the hell happened?

The Pianist was not – by far – Brody’s first film.  He had been in 20+ productions prior to 2002, some of them quite successful.  He was in The Thin Red Line and Summer of Sam and even worked with Woody Allen way back in 1989 in New York Stories.  But he hit most people’s radar in 2002 with his extraordinary performance as Wladyslaw Szpilman in Ramon Polanski’s The Pianist.  He deserved the Oscar he won for that role, he was phenomenal.  I still loathe Polanski and don’t see his movies anymore, but a more naive me was blown away by Brody in that role.

So what happened?  Since winning the Oscar and planting one one Halle Berry (perhaps more thrilling than the win itself) Brody has done nothing but crap.  His resume from before The Pianist is far better than it has been since.  I know, the Oscar curse.  But does that really explain The Brothers Bloom and Splice?  Those are just really bad choices.  And not good performances.  I don’t even want to think about The Village.

Brody may just be the kind of actor who has a hard time finding material to suit his strengths.  The traditional leading man is going to fail – audiences expect bland good looks in those roles and Brody is too distinctive.  Brooding and sensitive also seems doomed.  The Darjeeling Limited proved that even if he’s good at it, nobody wants to watch it.  I suppose if the rest of the movie wasn’t a train wreck that persona might have possibilities, but it hasn’t paid off so far.

My personal opinion is that he’s suited to heavy drama more than the quirky roles he’s been taking.  He has an intensity that plays well to the serious and not so well to the goofy.  Hopefully the movies he has in the can and in production will make use of his impressive skill and stop trying to make him into something he isn’t.  Not every actor is suited to every genre, I hope Brody gets the chance to shine once again.  Maybe even another chance to kiss a beautiful star on international television.

Splice review

Pianist review

Darjeeling Limited review

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