…and the quest to see everything

90s Showdown: Julianne ”Maggie” Moore

Let me begin by apologizing because I’ll be talking about Julianne Moore’s (vote for her here on Andrew’s Showdown) physicality, especially that in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. But I can’t help but comment on her look, preceding the Jem doll a decade later, evoking the sexuality missing from early Michael Mann LA heist movies. She is a product of her time, Amber is, when women could be pastel glamour without slinking into being tawdry. She can evoke that era in a snapshot.

Or maybe she’s classy in our standards, a quality that only Moore can bring to a character on the other side of the fence. Moore never overacts even in situations where it would call for it, her character being in an industry of exaggeration and reputation, but even then she sells any situation she’s in. She’s sexual but she also understands the banality of her own objectification, allowing distance even from the men she loves. Even if we’re hearing a voiceover of her in that high timbre we can feel the body from where she comes.

Moore’s characters in the 90’s always have been volatile yet caring, active as an actress in a decade of unconventional matriarchs. She’s the mother and the whore and makes a case for the latter. And she is quick in her actions and towards her surrogate children (e.g. Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler), a swift word or nod delivering her inner cognitive dissonance, unknowingly doing harm to the people she loves or dismissing the idea that what she does could be harmful. But she still has good intentions, we sympathize with her when she’s hurt and we cheer as she quietly heals.

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2 responses

  1. Julianne Moore crying is always the most heartbreaking thing. Remember her crying in THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT? I still lose it when I re-watch that scene.

    (This is one of the match-ups I can’t bear to vote in. I love Amber and I love Helene.)

    August 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    • I actually liked her more in Chloe than I did in The Kids Are All Right, but that’s maybe because she’s the best thing in the former an tick-y in the latter. I’d say career worst but that’s also like saying the worst Michelangelo.

      And I guess I voted for that although it was a toss up.

      August 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm

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