Saturday, January 16, 2010
Supporting Actress Blogathon: Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds
My second entry to StinkyLulu's 2009 Supporting Actress Blogathon is a performance that grabbed my attention from the moment it first appeared on screen.
Diane Kruger (who pleasantly surprised me here) plays Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress and Allied double agent tasked with being the film's eponymous Basterds German liaison and helping them with
Operation Kino, a plan to end WWII in one fell swoop. She's stylish (even her leg cast is high-heeled), beautiful, glamorous and (key ingredient) snarky. In other words, she's a diva.
The problem with divas is that playing one cannot really be taught. You can make them snappy with the script and glamorous with the wardrobe and art direction. However, the true diva has something else; something intangible, a certain je ne sais quoi. A diva has to be larger-than-life; human, yet unattainable.
Which is exactly what Kruger brings to the role. Yes, her wardrobe is gorgeous, but it would not look half as good if she did not carry herself the way she does. Her poise in everything from the way she smokes her cigarettes to the way she charms an entire room full of Nazi soldiers is astounding. But a delicate flower she's not. When (after a particularly messy gunfight) she's shot in the leg and and forced to cope with a redesigned strategy for Operation Kino, she doesn't hide her frustration. Rather, she directs her anger and wit at the dumb Basterds she's forced to rely on. It's during this scene that Kruger truly won me over. The gusto with which she delivers her lines is what finally tipped her into film diva territory, at least for me.
All of this would be fine and good for a truly decent supporting actress performance, but a remarkable one? That would require a little plus, and Kruger, once again, delivers. As her schemes begin to unravel, she's forced to deal with Cristoph Waltz's Col. Hans Landa (my favorite male supporting actor performance of the year). As she begins to realize, with ever-growing panic, that he's figured it all out, her perfect mask of poise and charm falters once more. Except, whereas before we saw a fierce attitude that wouldn't back down, now we see fear. She shows terror in her eyes, in the quiver of her lips, in her gasping breath. And then, she pulls herself together and manages a halfhearted smile before calmly, defiantly asking her executioner "What now, Colonel?"
For all of these reasons, it is my pleasure to nominate Diane Kruger as one of 2009's best supporting actresses.