What makes a great actor? Is it taking Shakespeare and doing well with it? Is a great actor someone who takes great material and gives a good performance? Or is that a competent actor, not necessarily great?
Given a terrific script and a good director, a competent actor should be expected to give a good performance. That doesn’t make one great. My feeling is that a great actor is someone who can take inferior material, who can work with mediocre directors, and still give a compelling performance.
Is Amy Adams competent or great? If you have any doubts, this is the movie to see. The material (Deborah Kaplan, who was responsible for “Made of Honor,” a trite screenplay with a ridiculous premise, and Harry Elfont) is derivative and banal. The directing (Anand Tucker) is clumsy. But Adams shines up the screen. She takes control of your emotions. She takes you to the top and to the bottom. You feel her emotions. Despite the drivel she was performing, she brought tears to my eyes when the story called for it. The Academy can award all the Oscars® it wants to actresses who are given great scripts and act for wonderful directors, I will give my Oscar® for 2010 to Adams for her performance in this film that would be instantly forgettable without her incredible performance.
She is helped by Matthew Goode, a British actor playing an Irishman, who also makes the most of the hackneyed material. Goode is believable as the man Adams instantly dislikes in her journey to propose to her cardiologist boyfriend, Adam Scott, who has been fending her off for four years. Scott is a quintessential Chardonnay (a self-centered, superficial, preppie jerk). The only problem with Goode’s performance is that his feigned Irish accent is so full of brogue that he is often unintelligible.
The production values are very disappointing. Although the locale of the movie is on the Dingle Peninsula, it was actually shot in Dun Aengus on the Aran Islands. I had a flat tire right by the sea on the Dingle Peninsula several decades ago. I had to wait an hour for another car to come by to help me. It was really desolate. This film captures that. But, even though there are some scenic venues, the cinematography doesn’t adequately capture the breathtaking beauty of the area.
The first hour is so bromidic it makes one cringe for the actors having to actually mouth the lines, truly dreadful. Even so, Adams is so captivating that it was worth watching. During the last half hour it does pick up. I attended with three people. They all gave it no more than 2 swans. I give it 3 because Adams is such a talent—it was a joy to see her try to turn a sow’s ear into something resembling a silk purse, and succeed with a performance that sparkles.