Addison DeWitt is alive & well & residing in the offices of "Time" magazine. His name these days is Richard Corliss, but his critical approach is the same & one of his critiques this week is even semi-cobbled from "A11 About Eve". Luckily, Richard Corliss is ineligible for an Academy Award this spring. Unluckily he seems to believe that he's on some sort of a mission from God to keep Jennifer Jason Leigh from winning an Oscar for her remarkable performance in "Georgia", coming soon to a Landmark theatre near you.
Leigh, claims Corliss, is too 'small' to deserve the critical raves she's received ever since "Georgia" was screened at Cannes last spring. Such praise is like a 'migraine' to Corliss & he insists 'this racket must cease'. Because he says so, of course. Because Leigh is good enough for cable but not for Oscar. Because she's so 'very, very bad'. Any poor dear who thinks otherwise must be delusional or at least 'mistake (n)' about what constitutes good acting. "Georgia", a superb new independent release, was not made for the Addison DeWitts of this planet.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is nothing short of electrifying as Sadie Flood, a down-&-out, not particularly talented singer who drinks and drugs up a storm while draining everyone who comes near her. Her far more gifted sister Georgia (beautifully played by Mare Winningham) wisely protects herself from Sadie's whirlwind existence, but at a price. Georgia is so self-contained that her life is blessed with every trapping of success but joy. When the sisters are together their collective loneliness fills up the screen. Films which have attempted to show the lives of musicians at their grittiest always seem to miss several beats when it comes to conveying emotional honesty. Other writers & directors have tried to capture the Sadies & Georgias of the world, but never with such depth & passion. That's why Barbara Turner's skillfully constructed screenplay & Ulu Grosbard's meticulous direction give the two stars such crucial support. Each & every character in "Georgia" brings a unique voice that supplies strong counterpoint to the hermetically sealed alliance between the sisters.
Particularly fine performances are contributed here by Ted Levine & Max Perlich as the men in their lives. And Leigh & Winningham will tear the heart out of any innocent audience member who still has a pulse. Whichever way you look at it, (unless you happen to be a latter-day Addison De HALF Witt!) "Georgia" is a tremendous achievement. I've already seen it two out of the six times I want to see it before March.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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