Sorry, no book review today... I totally got caught up in the Lizzie Borden Chronicles, which was pretty
awesome! For those who don't know, it is a fictitious imagining of what happens to the Borden Sisters after Lizzie (played by Christina Ricci) is acquitted for the murder of her parents. We all know the old rhyme: Lizzie Borden took and ax, gave her mother 40 wacks, and when he saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.
It is dark, gruesome, intense, and most importantly (for me, anyway) brings back one of my favorite actresses, (no, not Ricci, though she is totally awesome!) Clea DuVall.
I first began my lady love for DuVall when I saw her as Stokes in The Faculty. I didn't know then what it was about the edgy goth girl that called to my angsty teenage self, but I was hooked and as I was still young and naive, I connected that feeling to the actress who played Stokes, the remarkable Clea DuVall. I have pretty avidly followed her career and despite her many bad film choices, (Ghosts of Mars, 13 Conversations about One Thing) she always delighted me!
No matter how awful the movie, Clea calls to me. I suspect it was because of this girl-crush that many of my friends in my younger days wondered if I wasn't swinging for the other team. And as I reflect on it, watching her performance in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, and wondering why she isn't a bigger name actress, I came to a bit of an epiphany.
My epiphany reflects on two points: 1. Why do I love Clea DuVall? and 2. Why doesn't the rest of the world?
Well, I have the first one nailed. I love Clea, because she portrays strong women who, while they may not know how/ where they fit in the world, they do know who they are and when push comes to shove are ok with who they are. Whether she is playing a woman who was written as powerful (like Bashira of Ghosts of Mars) or awkward characters like Ginny in Identity, these women have a certain sense of confidence. She rarely gets a lead role, and is often cast in the lesser roles for women, despite doing an excellent job. Which leads me to wonder on epiphany number 2.
Why doesn't the rest of the world see what I see, when they watch Clea perform? She has only been nominated for two awards, (Best Actress in 2005 Satellite Awards) and won the SAG for Best
Performance by a Cast (Not even really for her, sadly). I wondered if it had something to do with her looks. Even I admit she is only "pretty in a certain light". But then so is Hillary Swank, and she has won two Oscars. There are hundreds of actors who fall into that category.
I wondered if Clea DuVall's lack of recognition has something to do with the the types of characters she plays. She rarely gets the lead role, but then there are awards for that too. Is it because she doesn't have enough experience? With 78 credits under her belt, I doubt that is the case. So what is it?
Is it possibly because of the way she plays her roles? That should be lauded, right? I mean, it is that raw fresh honesty that I love. That strong, even when I don't fit in, persona that carries across all of her characters is why I have so avidly followed her career.
But what if that doesn't resonate with the rest of the world? We are seeing more and more strong female characters in film and books. But they often take on a stereotypical strength, the Able Annie who can do it all, the killer queen, the vicious vixen, the butch B*tch, and the mean girl. Clea doesn't play that.
She plays a variety of troubled women, from the looking for approval Laura from How To Make A Monster, to the Empathetic Spinster Emma of The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. Her characters are probably the most realistic representation of women I have seen in any entertainment. They are flawed (as are we all) but they still have strengths. Is it possible that she is just too real for the world to handle?
Would love to hear your thoughts. Do you love Clea DuVall, hate her, have no idea who she is? Let us know in the comments below.
And until next time,