Performer of the week: Julia Roberts
THE ARTIST | julia robert
THE SHOW | Starz’ Gas lighting
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THE EPISODE | “Year of the Rat” (June 5, 2022)
THE PERFORMANCE | We all know now that Martha was right about Nixon’s shady business on Watergate, but it wasn’t until the penultimate episode that we saw how much she suffered for telling the truth. .
Roberts fired on all cylinders, beaming onscreen in a flashback depicting Martha and John Mitchell’s cute encounter. Her effervescence and southern charm were dazzling enough to soften the brashness of the politician who was to become her future beau.
But his display of self-confidence and poise was quickly shaken when we leapfrogged 16 years. As Martha was about to testify about the Watergate shenanigans, her smirk and wit melted as the committee attacked her character, including her former hospitalization and the “acute mental illness” that ran through her family. The actress chickened out at the right time and, in turn, quickly rebuilt herself despite the many daggers thrown at her. After the hearing, she went on a rampage, ransacking the family’s apartment, defacing her husband’s portrait and screaming in frustration. It was unfair treatment and Roberts forced us to feel the pain of his character.
But when John got home, the sparks really started to fly. “You cheat on me!” she was seething with intoxication. “You gave them the knife and told them exactly where to stick it!” Martha then went on a vicious rant against John, shooting down his crimes and his pseudo relationship with Nixon. Punches were thrown and drinks were crushed as she continued to spew (and mouth) fiery insults at a man she had grown to hate. With tears in her eyes, a quivering lip, and a manic physique, Roberts fully committed to the drama and never once lifted her foot. On the contrary, she reveled in emotional extremes. And when John admitted to being responsible for his traumatic imprisonment in California, the actress didn’t need to say another word. His eyes spoke volumes.
| We still don’t know what we think of The staircase‘s accused killer Michael Peterson, but we’re sure Colin Firth absolutely wowed us with a masterfully layered and complex performance. In this week’s finale, Firth showed us all the many sides of Michael: he could be an intellectual charmer, as he wooed his wife Kathleen at a posh holiday party, but he could also be vicious, as he ripped her daughter Margie hard at a post-trial celebration dinner. Michael himself was a performer, adapting his personality to his situation, and Firth deftly juggled his myriad characters, the finishing touch being that last enigmatic smile Michael gave the camera. The Oscar winner seemed an unlikely choice for the role at first, but he won us over with a stunning transformation that inhabited the dramatically fertile ground between hero and villain.
| It only took a few seconds for Shantel VanSanten to impress us during For all mankindSeason 3 premiere. As her character, Karen, silently watched Danny and his bride share their first wedding dance, VanSanten added a wealth of emotion to Karen’s reaction to Danny’s song choice. The cover of “Don’t Be Cruel” played a pivotal role in Karen and Danny’s own story last season, so upon hearing the melody again, Karen’s face sparkled with everything from shock to confusion and maybe even pain. VanSanten deftly navigated Karen’s complex feelings, while trying to put on a nonchalant facade in front of the wedding guests. No one else may have picked up Karen’s emotional response, but we definitely noticed VanSanten’s stellar performance.
| Both refreshing and unexpected, one of the strengths of LegacyThe final season was Aurora’s gradual redemption of Rebecca Breeds, a character first introduced to her parent series in 2015. Previously seen as a despised “crazy” woman, Aurora has become much more complex when examined in the proper light, and Breeds’ consistently nuanced performances played a big part in fans falling in love with someone they once reviled. Breeds’ work in Thursday’s penultimate episode was the culmination of all the hard work she’s put in so far, which made it much harder to say goodbye to her the second time around.
Which performance(s) hit your socks this week? Tell us in the comments!
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