Sunday, July 25, 2010

A SALT AND BATTERY: I wanted to follow up on our discussion of Angelina Jolie's presence and how it affects whether you'll see a movie with a (spoiler-free) discussion of Salt. As you can tell from the trailers and ads, crucial to Salt working at all is at least some sense of doubt as to where Salt's loyalties lie--if the actress reads too pure or too villainous, we know the answer to the movie's central question early on. Jolie is unique among female stars in that she can carry this off--can you buy uncertain loyalties of someone like a Jennifer Garner, Cameron Diaz, or Drew Barrymore? (Scarlett Johansson might be able to sell it.)

Of course, much ink has been spilled over how Jolie took over the lead in Salt when Tom Cruise turned it down, but I haven't seen anyone really talk about how Salt and Knight and Day are really mirror images of one another. Both depend, to a large extent, on our uncertainty about how we feel about the leading performers off-screen to inform our judgment of their on-screen characters. Is Roy Miller a brilliant secret agent forced to go rogue by circumstances beyond his control, or a guy who's experienced a violent break with reality? Is Salt loyal or a Russian spy? We can't answer those questions up front because of our feelings about the leads. Neither film entirely works, and the two films take dramatically different directions from that premise (one goes for a more comic direction and the other takes things all-too-seriously), but to the extent they work, they do so because of our mistrust of the leading performer, and that's a rarity indeed.


  1. Anonymous7:59 PM

    not sure 0 comments have ever spoken so loudly about anything.
    fuck this movie.  and that other one too.

  2. Goghaway9:44 AM

    I dunno. My first instinct was Tricia Helfer, but she isn't really a movie star, I guess.

  3. bella wilfer12:45 PM

    I would buy Zoe Saldana in a Salt-esque role, both as action star and as "person who I'm not sure is good or bad," I think maybe more b/c I don't know enough about her tabloid-wise.  Anyone who's been anointed America's Sweetheart or "person America generally feels bad for" (I'm looking at you, Jennifer Aniston) can't do it.  I agree Scarlett could do it.  Keira Knightley maybe?  

  4. Goghaway1:11 PM

    Zoe Saldana would be awesome! I thought she was wonderful in the Star Trek movie- totally smart, tough, and cool. Scarlett and Kiera I can also see as well (though I didn't see Domino, and have no idea if she handles fight scenes well). What do you think about Emily Blunt? She can certainly be mysterious and fierce.  

  5. bella wilfer8:11 PM

    Emily Blunt was the first choice for Black Widow in Iron Man 2, Goghaway, so I totally agree that she could do it.  I actually liked Scarlett in that role but I think Blunt can be equally badass.  (For the record, she got pulled onto Gulliver's Travels by Fox, who had an option on her for another pic after Devil Wears Prada, so she wasn't avail for IM2).