The Russell Girl is almost here! Get a head start by watching a short preview at YouTube. Remember that the movie is being broadcast tomorrow - Sunday January 27 at 9/8c on CBS.
I am excited to say that there are loads of reviews with plenty of love for Jennifer Ehle. All of the articles are worth a read, but I'll quote some of the highlights and relevant bits.
The Russell Girl may bear the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” imprimatur, but thanks to a pair of impressively raw performances by Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) and Tony winner Jennifer Ehle, this unhurried character study often seems more like a film you’d find in the Sundance lineup.
Ehle shrewdly opts for subtlety in a role that many actors would play as hysteric, resisting the temptation to steal scenes from Tamblyn. The younger actor, meanwhile, makes the most of the material and delivers an extremely convincing portrayal of a young person who lacks the emotional vocabulary to respond to her situation. [...]
[...] "The Russell Girl" soars where it could have sagged, thanks to performances by Amber Tamblyn and Jennifer Ehle.
Ehle, now a blonde with more than a passing resemblance to Meryl Streep (not to mention her own mother, Rosemary Harris), gives an equally fine performance as a woman who's been living with a certain level of unhappiness for a very long time, a level that Sarah's return only threatens to increase.
A romance for Sarah with an old high-school boyfriend (Paul Wesley) feels tacked on, and Mastrantonio and DeKay - who was one of the best things about HBO's "Tell Me You Love Me" - are probably underserved by a script that really belongs to Tamblyn and Ehle.
While they're onscreen, you might not want to cry too hard, for fear of missing something. [...]
[...] Something happened years ago that left the neighbor woman embittered toward Sarah. "It's an interesting character," says Jennifer Ehle, who plays the neighbor.
Their scenes set off a rich contrast. On one side is the young actress, stepping into one of her first grown-up roles; on the other side is Ehle, 38, who already has two Tony awards.
"Actually, I think Amber has done more work (on camera) than I have," Ehle says.
Ehle, by comparison, has had sporadic film roles. She's from a theater family; her mother, Rosemary Harris, has been nominated for eight Tony awards, winning once.
"I think the first time I saw her in theater was 'The Seagull,"' Ehle recalls. "I drew a little notation in the program, every time the subway went by ...
"I had no idea that most 10-year-old girls didn't see 'The Seagull' and make notations about the subway."
Ehle is an American, but studied drama in London, in her mother's native land. She's done several of her films there, including a notable one: In 1995, she and Colin Firth starred in a classic, miniseries version of "Pride and Prejudice."
Still, she's stayed mostly in theater."I spent all of last year in a very close, loving group," Ehle says. "Doing three, three-hour plays for nine or 10 months can be a great experience."
That was in Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia." Ehle won her second Tony; the first was for a revival of Stoppard's "The Real Thing," seven years earlier.
When that finally finished, she was ready for a change of pace. "I was just curious about doing television again," she says. [...]
[...] "By working with her hands, Lorraine has found something nurturing to do with her days, which otherwise seem quite empty," said Jennifer Ehle of her character. "She has an emotional wound that she hasn't allowed to heal. Lorraine hasn't known how to do that. And it's high time."
The two-time Tony Award winner and veteran of theatrical films said she was drawn to the story because "any interesting puzzle that comes along is worth doing."
"Lorraine was not a picnic to play," Ehle said. "She is in a lot of pain, but I don't blame her. I liked her a lot. She doesn't let anybody in." And Lorraine, with her distant attitude toward Sarah, "is the only one who notices she is sick," Ehle said.
Tamblyn said she and Ehle discussed how their scenes together, from confrontation to crying, should be staged.
"When you deal with a story line that involves two different generations of women, you have to be careful," Tamblyn said. "You don't want one of them to be the victim. The question for Jennifer and me was how to play it, how to achieve that subtlety, because it is so dramatic, with a lot of emotions being processed." [...]
[...] Hallmark has given this substandard script to a terrific group of actors, and they almost rescue it. Tamblyn shows again why she is so missed as a weekly TV presence; Czerny, DeKay and Mastrantonio all shine in underwritten roles. The prize, though, goes to Ehle, who takes a ludicrously inconsistent character and somehow cobbles her together into a human being. [...]
[...] On paper, writer Jill Blotevogel's script is standard TV melodrama, but Tamblyn's deeply expressive performance, along with that of Tony-winner Ehle, creates believably heart-wrenching emotions. "The Russell Girl" proves Tamblyn can carry a film. Ehle, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Meryl Streep, is as good onscreen as onstage. [...]
[...] in dealing with the emotions of guilt and grief, the movie does quite well. It is not afraid to use silence as well as words. The cast — which also includes Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Sarah's mother, and Henry Czerny as Lorraine's husband — is expressive. Tamblyn does quite well with the confusion in Sarah, and Tony Award-winner Ehle is extremely good. The Russell Girl touches the heart.
If The Russell Girl isn't being broadcast in your area, don't despair. It will eventually be released on DVD by Hallmark. We'll let you know when we learn more.
But, before I go, here are a few items not related to The Russell Girl:
- There is an absolutely adorable article about Rosemary Harris and her friend "Cuddly" at the George Street Playhouse blog.
- The New York Times discusses Rosemary Harris and Oscar and the Pink Lady.
- The Stoppardians out there might be interested to know that Playbill has a Q&A with Sir Tom.
- There is a Q&A with Before the Rains director Santosh Sivan at Times of India.
- And finally, the Latina Alternative blog mentions the Pride and Glory soundtrack.
Have a good weekend everyone, and congrats to those of you who made it to the end of this post!