Welcome back to another edition of my latest Actor Profile, The Marvelous Brie Larson, a monthly series revolving around the silver screen performances of one of my favorite actresses. (If you are a newcomer to this series, here is a link to the original post).
Also this, from the first installment:
The idea behind this feature is to bring attention to a specific performer and their skillsets and to see how they contribute to a story. This probably goes without saying, but I will be focusing on how they POSITIVELY affect an experience. It would seem counterintuitive to feature roles in which they weren’t very good, were ill-fit or the movie overall was just plain bad. Of course, there is always that rare occasion where a great performance can single-handedly improve a fundamentally poor movie, so I won’t rule out that possibility.
In this month’s installment I am going in the opposite direction by taking a look at a far more limited role. Indeed, this is a few steps away from being a cameo appearance, but there is no denying it has an impact on the main character and the direction the film goes in. First-time writer/director Joseph Gordon Levitt on what she brought to his movie: “Brie created a whole character who makes the audience laugh, but who also feels like a real human being. And she did it without saying anything. That takes a truly skilled actress.”
Brie Larson as Monica Martello in Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Don Jon
Role Type: Supporting
Genre: Comedy/relationship drama/romance
Premise: A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends and church develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.
Character Background: Monica is the younger sister of Jon Jr., a ladykiller played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. Though she may be seen more often than not glued to her phone, she’s not exactly oblivious to the goings-on around her, except maybe the worst of her parents’ arguments or the score of whatever football game is on. When Jon breaks the news of his break-up with Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) — a girl he hoped and his parents hoped on top of that hope would actually be The One — we learn just how attentive to detail Monica really is.
It’s a small scene but a big gesture. On a broadly entertaining level it’s one of those “whoa, they actually talk!” moments — but her breaking silence isn’t played as a gimmick or just for laughs. It has a timeliness to it that suggests Monica just hasn’t had anything to contribute to the routinely hysterical family conversation. Most of the time she just wants to stay out of the squabbling and nagging but now that she sees a real rift dividing in the family — Jon and his father (Tony Danza) especially locking horns over the importance of family and long-term commitment — she does what any good sibling does and comes to her brother’s side, offering him her perspective on what she viewed as a one-sided, high-maintenance relationship. As we see later, when Jon finds more emotional intimacy with an older woman (Julianne Moore), it’s a bit of sisterly advice he clearly takes to heart.
Marvel at this Scene:
Rate the Performance (relative to her other work):
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Brie Larson is a great actress. I have enjoyed her in her many film appearances, especially Short Term 12 and Room.
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She is among my favorites currently. It’s really too bad what’s been happening to her with the release of Captain Marvel. I’m despairing at the vitriol being thrown her way for voicing a concern about the lack of diversity along the press circuit. My next installment will actually be Carol Danvers and I’m struggling to find a way to avoid all the noise that surrounds her portrayal of that character.
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Well done, Tom. I’m enjoying getting to know
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Ahh darn, another comment I’ve left behind. Sorry about that Cindy!
I’m really excited about this feature. I like sharing my favorite roles of hers, maybe if I’m lucky I can get someone to see one of her lesser known movies. She’s a naturally gifted performer who I’ve really become a fan of over the years
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