Certified Classics: Sophie’s Choice
With Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol.
I’ve long heard praises of Meryl Streep’s performance in Sophie’s Choice, many calling it “the greatest performance by an actress in the history of film.” The problem with movies this highly regarded is that by the time I finally get around to seeing them, my expectations are at such a level that I’m inevitably disappointed. Streep and Sophie’s Choice did not disappoint. I would even go as far as saying that Streep’s performance is the best I have ever seen, regardless of gender. Yes, better than the likes of Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), De Niro (Raging Bull) and even Brando (On the Waterfront).
The most surprising part for me, though, was that the movie was much more than just a Meryl Streep acting exhibition. Kevin Kline turns in an amazing performance in his own right, and the movie succeeds as a sweeping romance, a historical epic and psychological drama. Director Alan J. Pakula knew exactly what he was dealing with here. He uses a lot of long takes, utilizing a classic, subtle editing technique that allows the brilliant performances to unfold in front of our eyes with minimal interruptions.
RIYL: Reds, The Reader, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.