Some of My Favorite Film Characters
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David Helfgott in Shine -- I loved this movie, based on the true story of a gifted Australian pianist with mental illness. While Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar for his excellent performance as the adult Helfgott, there was something about the adolescent David, played by Noah Taylor, that I found particularly compelling.
Marge Gunderson in Fargo -- The cheerful, wholesome Midwestern girl masks a tough, determined police officer with a sharp intellect.
Tessa Quayle in The Constant Gardner -- Captivated by the plight of African villagers victimized by a major pharmaceutical corporation, she is tireless, passionate and courageous in pursuing her cause.
Jess Kaur Bhamra in Bend it Like Beckham -- She's torn between the expectations of her traditional Indian family and her passion for soccer in this coming of age tale.
Captain Abu Raed is a custodian in a Jordanian airport. Though he's led a simple life marked by grief, it is enriched by his love for books and his fertile imagination. Throughout the course of this film, he evolves from a timid man, living through fantasies, to a person with the courage to risk his life to protect the innocent.
Tarek in The Visitor -- This Syrian immigrant is full of heart and humor, and his passion for music creates bonds that cross cultural lines.
Iris Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus -- I've always loved this movie about the importance of an "ordinary life," and Iris, the loyal wife and fiercely devoted mom, is the heart of the story.
Naturelle Rivera in 25th Hour -- While being shacked up with a convicted drug dealer is hardly an ideal situation, I couldn't resist her affection and loyalty to her beloved, Monty Brogan, played by Edward Norton. And if I weren't a female of the hetero persuasion, I would find her totally sexy.
Evelyn Couch in Fried Green Tomatoes -- This film isn't as good as the novel by Fannie Flagg, but I still loved it. Evelyn, a middle aged Southern housewife who is transformed by a friendship, has a combination of sweetness and gritty strength. "Towanda!!!"
Poppy in Happy Go Lucky -- Some viewers find this tenaciously cheerful character annoying, but I love her. She's joyful, affectionate and compassionate. There is a wonderful scene in the movie where she quietly, patiently stands face-to-face with a disturbed homeless man, making a connection.
Lars Lindstrom in Lars and the Real Girl -- Painfully shy, quirky, and at times, self-centered, Lars is a character I can relate to. I was surprised at how great this movie was. When I first saw a preview, I thought, "Seriously ... a movie about a sex doll?" But this movie isn't about naughty jokes and funny gags. It's about a deeply introverted young man finding his own eccentric way of connecting with the world around him.
Celie Johnson in The Color Purple -- This film almost does justice to Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I love Celie's gradual transformation from a timid woman, who's been victimized by men all her life, to a relatively confident, independent lady.
Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride -- I couldn't omit this movie, could I? I love this master swordsman and drunken Spaniard turned hero. "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die! ... Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die! ... Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"
Lucy Honeychurch in A Room With a View -- Remember when Helena Bonham Carter was incredibly young and always in corsets? I loved her in this adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel
Col. Christopher Brandon in Sense and Sensibility -- I love this novel and its various adaptations. Col. Brandon with his quiet, unwavering love and loyalty toward Marianne, is one of Jane Austen's most memorable characters. Who knew Alan Rickman could play a good guy?
Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice -- I love this novel, and its various adaptations, almost as much as Sense and Sensibility. My only complaint about this version is that Keira Knightley is too beautiful for the role. Elizabeth Bennett wasn't a beauty, nor did her family possess any fortune -- she won Darcy's heart strictly with her intellect, wit, and spirit.
Juno -- It seems that nobody can resist this precocious, wisecracking teen, prematurely pregnant and struggling to plan the right future for her unborn child.
Guiseppe Conlon in In The Name of the Father -- I saw this movie many years ago and found it quite powerful. The most memorable character, for me, was Guiseppe. His son, Gerry Conlon, brilliantly played by Daniel Day-Lewis, is enraged over British treatment of Northern Ireland. Gerry scorns his father's quiet, peaceful approach and is drawn to the Irish Republican Army. Only when his brush with terrorism leads to tragic consequences does Gerry come to admire his father's gentle courage. Pete Postlethwaite was a terrific actor. He will be missed.
The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland -- He was always my favorite character in Lewis Carroll's gloriously imaginative, clever book. And I have to admit, Tim Burton did give him a certain flair. Though on second thought, he looks a little creepy, doesn't he?
Simon in Death at a Funeral -- Not to insult the American remake of this movie, but the British version is so much better. There's just something about this dark, absurd comedy of errors that just needs to be set in an English parlor and study. This is one of my all-time favorite comedies, and I couldn't resist this anxious, buttoned-down businessman whose mind was hijacked by his unintentionally ingesting hallucinogens. Here he is, on the roof in all his naked glory.
Kevin Kline as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda -- Ah ... the epitome of the ugly American. You gotta admit this nasty, mentally challenged con man and wannabe philosopher is a memorable character. "Don't call me stupid!"
April Burns in Pieces of April -- Having grown up with her mother's heartbreaking disapproval, April is quirky and fiercely independent on the surface; underneath she's vulnerable and eager for her family's acceptance. Scrambling around, trying to prepare a family Thanksgiving feast in her low-income inner city apartment, she won my heart.
The eponymous character in Amelie is child-like, mischievous, quirky and charming. And who can resist all those glimpses of a Parisian neighborhood?
Vianne in Chocolat -- I was won over by her passion and love of life. And what's not to like about someone who makes chocolate for a living?
Ludovic Fabre in Ma Vie in Rose -- The transgendered child in this Belgian film broke my heart. Although I loved his performance, I've never been able to bring myself to watch it again. It's just too sad and infuriating to see a child rejected for being true to his own nature.
Mick in The Heart as a Lonely Hunter -- This is a worthy adaptation of Carson McCullers' beautiful and tragic novel, and I've never forgotten Mick, struggling to grow up and full of yearning.
Paikea in Whale Rider -- I loved her passion and intensity, and her undisguised love and devotion for her cold, distant grandfather was heart-wrenching.
Mattie Ross in True Grit -- both versions of this movie are terrific, though they're different in many ways. This incredibly tenacious, brave teen is the heart of the story.
Annie Wilson in The Gift -- This small-town Southern psychic and single mom tries to heal battered lives as she supports her boys by reading cards for her patrons.
Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia -- Tom Hanks plays an attorney wrongfully fired for having AIDS with a quiet courage and tenderness that elevates Philadelphia above a mere "issues" movie.
Bonnie Grape in What's Eating Gilbert Grape -- Confined to her house because of severe obesity and ashamed to be seen by anyone outside the family, Bonnie has her moment of glory when she bravely steps out in public to get her mentally disabled son out of jail. I love it when movies illuminate the heroism of simple actions.
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