Oct 12, 2012

On Julianne Moore's Performance in Boogie Nights

"If the definition of an ensemble cast entails that the characters get roughly the same screen time and have equal importance in driving the narrative, then Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson’s greatest film to date) is the epitome of an ensemble film. Its cast has no shortage of strong performances, memorable characters or silver screen stars. Yet, it is Julianne Moore’s Amber “the foxiest bitch in the world” Waves who still manages to steal the show, for her presence on the screen is so radiant, so lively, that I can only see the others as they relate to her; and in her absence she’s constantly lingering in my mind. Moore’s performance is an unimpeachable example of nuance in expressivity. Her character is the emotional anchor for everybody else in the film. She’s the mother that Wahlberg and Graham never had, the one and only woman for Reynolds, the ultimate object of desire for everyone who sees her on tape, the one everybody goes to when they want something done. Yet, inside her there’s something badly and irrevocably broken. Moore makes a fine line of this grave emotional chasm. The beauty of her performance is the subtlety she brings to the role even though she’s wearing her heart on her sleeve. Not that she is any less impressive in the extremes, like her deadpan delivery of “This is a giant cock” or her sobbing scene after the court rules against her in a custody battle. But it’s the more delicate moments that make this one of my favourite performances of all time."
*Julianne Moore's performance in Boogie Nights was voted the best of the nineties in Andrew's 90s Showdown. As a contributor to his series, I selected the performance as the number one of the decade in my original top ten list and wrote the blurb above during the voting. I'm happy to see I'm not at all alone in my admiration for her work.

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