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Susan Saint James,
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Frances Farmer, a precocious Seattle teenager, takes unpopular social and political positions, to the mixed reactions of her parents. Frances becomes an actress and has some strong success in New York, but her refusal to bend her convictions and her outspoken (but sometimes naive) political expressiveness cause her difficulties, especially after she accepts a Hollywood contract. Torn between new-found success and intense feelings that she does not deserve the riches and fame she gains from the phoniness of Hollywood, Frances butts heads with studio executives and with her own mother, who revels in Frances's fame but provides Frances no emotional support. When drunken fights and arrests derail her career, Frances is sent to a psychiatric hospital with the acquiescence of her mother. What follows is a nightmare of poor treatment and psychological trauma, augmented by the increasing determination of Frances's mother to control her daughter's life.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
I watched Frances because I seemed to remember that Kevin Costner had a tiny part at the start of his career and I'm a big fan. I didn't expect necessarily to see anything startling other than what it said on the tin, a film about the real life movie star from the 40's, Frances Farmer, as played by Jessica Lange. I've always admired Jessica Lange as a really good actress but she's never blown me away like some stars do. At least, not until now. Now watching this 1982 movie in 2014 (a bit late, I know), she's completely reversed my previous thoughts about her. Her performance in this picture has to be one of the most dynamic, hypnotic acting stints I've ever seen by an actress. It reminded me a bit of Faye Dunaway in Network (where she won the Oscar). Looking this movie up I saw that Jessica was beaten in 1982 by Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice, but if ever an actress was robbed of the Oscar, this performance was it. I'd urge anyone who loves acting at the highest level to watch this movie, just for Jessica Lange's performance, although there is also a very strong backup show by Kim Stanley as her mother. Very long at two and half hours, but I couldn't take my eyes off Jessica Lange's face. It's hard to detect between when she's being charming and when she might suddenly explode. Mesmerizing.
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