Who’d have thought that gorgeous movie star with scarily big lips and scarily attractive children would be so talented in the director’s chair? A lot of people with half a brain, really. Seeing as Angelina Jolie has more than proven (not that she’s trying to prove anything) her humanitarian worth, what with being a UN-approved activist and all, her creative interests have naturally unfolded into areas of direction where she can further her outreach and raise awareness for issues close to her heart. Jolie is a celebrity exploiting her status for the right reasons.
But as we know, having a good heart can’t magic you filmmaking talent, which is why I stand by my initial implication of pleasant surprise. Hooray for Jolie’s first two features! How they have set the bar high. Particularly, the Boxing Day-released UNBROKEN is unquestionable evidence of the actress’s directorial skill, which, coupled with the talented Jack O’Connell (alright, I’ll shut up about him now. After this article.) makes for wonderful watching.
What makes for good direction? The fact that the epic story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner-turned-war hero and Japanese war camp survivor, has translated into a very ‘Hollywood’ film that draws extensively on the bank of war-hero movies available, does not to me impend on how Jolie’s directing personality comes through. What is clear is that her relationship with lead Jack O’Connell created everything it could have possibly hoped for in the character, from his effortless Italian-American persona to his rebellious streak to his trying emotional journey. Jolie recognised O’Connell’s versatility despite the fact that up until now he has been pretty much cast-type in British roles due to his air of total authenticity, which filmmakers have evidently felt needed to remain in its context. A good director can draw out authenticity and tune it to a different environment, and by daring to do this Jolie has pushed O’Connell’s career forward.
In The Land Of Blood And Honey (2011)
It is her daring as a director which indicates she has a right to be doing this. Her first film was definitely not, overall, a good one, but it was ambitious and driven by a sense of injustice at what she thought was the most atrocious war in modern history. She certainly succeeded in bringing to light some devastating details of a reality that occurred in Bosnia in the 90s, and although she was largely criticised for her supposed motives, the only motivation that the film suggests to me is one of the need to expose stories that are painful and hard to tell. Her progression into UNBROKEN only supports this.
Don’t worry, S’ony jealousy!
Sony be damned! This woman is an award winning actress, a recognised humanitarian, a caring mother and now a stunning director, giving her the right to demand a level of excellence on her projects. It would be interesting to see whether, if Jolie was just another ballsy male actor/director, she would have been labelled a “a minimally talented spoiled brat”. Something to think about.
Outside of the Sony hacking scandal, what is this general backlash of jealousy – ‘scuse me, indignation at the fact that Jolie was able to secure her place as director of the epic World War II story? “She’s only got the gig because she’s a Hollywood actress!” critics exclaim. “Why doesn’t she have a beard, or a beer belly??” might as well follow. In other words, I find it hard to understand these statements as anything other than possessiveness over a male-driven industry, when an actress known for her sexual allure tries to muscle in with brain power and creative talent. Yes, she is a bona-fied celebrity for being gorgeous and one half of Brangelina, but this is the world we live in and what we glorify as consumers. If established directors and critics are angry because a female movie star got the big job, I’m sure they can console themselves in the millions of other projects readily available to them. (Jolie was one of two female directors to direct a major studio’s film in 2014. How selfish of her.)
We are not fooled by these patronising attacks on her work, which, although is not fully cultivated yet into ‘great’ on all accounts, certainly does not deserve the misplaced cheap shots it’s taken. UNBROKEN is a Komodo Dragon-standard film – go and see it before you judge her!