Top 5 Film Crushes
by Bret Dorman
(fair to say Spoilers! in the explanation/clips for the Top 5 films that will be mentioned)
This past movie going session marks the third time I’ve seen Hanna in theaters. And while I could go on and on about Hanna all day, what I’m here to talk about right now is just one particular aspect of Hanna… and that is… Hanna.
I think, for film geeks anyway, in order to have a ‘film crush’ on a character there has to be two things. 1) You need to like and care for the character and 2) The actress needs to be good. Note that I didn’t say the actress needs to be beautiful (although she certainly can be), but that she has to be good. At least in the movie that has the film crush. This is to weed out roles like Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. Sure there’s something about Jessica Simpson in that role that brings out my inner Caveman and she is absolutely gorgeous… but she isn’t ‘particularly’ good in the movie nor do I really care for her character.
While watching Hanna, I couldn’t help but immediately connect with Hanna and her big, gorgeous blue eyes that Director Joe Wright does not shy away from. Whether Hanna was kicking ass or recreationally riding on a motorcycle, I was rooting for her win or just have a moment to live freely.
And of course Saoirse Ronan is beautiful, but I almost prefer Hanna’s beauty over the ‘traditional’ red carpet beauty of Ronan. Here’s a ‘side by side’.
(I should note that even though Hanna is 16 in the movie she is in some ways more mature beyond her years seeing as she was prepared to be suddenly thrown into the real/spy/adult world, yet in some ways she is still childish. Saoirse Ronan is 17 though. The point is I don’t want to be labeled as some creepy pedophile. Its just a Film Crush.)
Ronan does a great job of always having some sort of inner thought process behind Hanna’s gaze. Even if she is silent and just observing, you can watch her processing everything around her. I also just like the way she says ‘peoples’ and in one particular shot we see her hiding, but laughing just through her eyes.
Upon leaving the theater, heart aflutter with a new film crush, it got me thinking of old film crushes past. The great thing about Film Crushes as opposed to real crushes, is that you can always revisit them and they will still be there for you, happy to have you. The bad thing about Film Crushes as opposed to real crushes is if you write a blog about not just 1, but 6 total… you might seem a little crazy… wait…
Anyway, since I already went on about Hanna, I’ll exclude her from this list. Sort of my own way of including an honorable mention without having an honorable mention section. I’m going to put the character’s name first since a Film Crush is more character based than actress based.
5 – Breathless Mahoney (as played by Madonna) in Dick Tracy
I’m not really a sucker for Blondes. What I am a sucker for is Film Noir Femme Fatales and Super Seductive Dialogue. In a movie that spoofs film noir and plays it up, Director (also star) Warren Beatty made the right choice to not have Madonna play Breathless tongue in cheek, but rather dripping with pure sex appeal. After all, she is the Femme Fatale… not the… Funny Fatale?
Breathless doesn’t have it easy. She’s a trophy. The most Gorgeous woman in the city. You can imagine who ever is the Big Boss in town to kind of have ‘ownership’ over her. But Breathless, in addition to being super sexy, is also smarter than most guys think. Underestimating her can be just as deadly as undressing her…
But that’s exactly what she wants from Dick Tracy. And she’s not afraid to let him know…
4) Kathy in House of Sand and Fog / Marion Silver in Reqium for a Dream (both played by Jennifer Connelly)
Something we discussed in a Mythology Class I once took, was character archetypes and what made them that way and why they keep coming back. One of the interesting takes on the Damsel in Distress character was that character kept popping up not because men thought women couldn’t take care of themselves, but because men want to take care of women.
In both these movies, Connelly plays that Damsel in Distress. Sure there’s no dragon or even villain involved, but she needs someone to help her (not necessarily take care of her… I’m trying to avoid getting yelled at by super-feminists here…).
These two characters aren’t bad people, they just make some bad decisions. Both have tons of scenes where Connelly just needs someone stable in her life to come in and help out. The epitome of this is in House of Sand and Fog when she calls her brother for help at a phone booth. I couldn’t find that scene… so here’s another that shows just how vulnerable her character is…
3) Leeloo Minai Lekarariba-Laminai-Tchai Ekbat De Sebat (as played by Milla Jovovich) in The Fifth Element
Leeloo is The Supreme Being. ‘Perfect’ as it were. How can you not have a crush on someone who is perfect?
As we all know, Leeloo is an alien-like semi-‘new born’ who absorbs information at a Johnny-5 like speed and never really seems to know what she is doing. Even though she knows her purpose, she is unable to inspire any confidence in those around her due to the fact that she just doesn’t have a grasp on the English language or the subtleties of human civilization in general.
Milla, who was relatively new, especially to having this big a role in this big a film, is near perfect as Leeloo. I don’t know if this is an instance of the actor playing the role or the role playing the actor (in a wierd sci-fi kind of way). Part of me likes to think Miss Jovovich just fell into the right role at the right time but part of me likes to think Leeloo is just a perfect example of an an actress transcending acting and simply ‘being the character’ (and boy is Leeloo a character…).
In addition to moments like the heartfelt ‘Big Bada Boom’ moment, Leeloo’s child-like obsession with ‘the multipass’ while the existence of the universe is on the line, is why I love Leeloo…
2) Elle Driver aka California Mountain Snake (as played by Daryl Hannah) in Kill Bill
Before I mentioned one of the guidelines was you have to ‘like’ the character. Elle Driver is such a great adversary for The Bride its hard to not ‘like’ her. Sure she’s evil, nasty, and fights dirty on several occasions, but all those are ‘good’ traits for a true villain. Besides, if The Bride just breezed her way through baddie after baddie to get to Bill her accomplishment wouldn’t be as momentous.
In the scene below, Elle talks to a dying Budd about snake venom as a preface to how she feels about him having ‘buried’ her nemesis. She goes on a great colloquial/informational rant about the venom of a Black Mamba before telling Budd how she really feels. What she feels is ‘regret’. You might get that Elle has some sort of a sense of honor, that she knows The Bride ‘deserved better’, but really its just Elle being selfish. She wanted to be the one to do it. And you know she has no qualms about doing it dishonorably.
Hannah absolutely shines as Elle. Makes you wonder where she’s been hiding or why it took Tarantino to get such a great performance out of someone so strikingly beautiful.
This is the scene I talk about above… only skip to the 7 minute mark… the only other version I could find that was just the speech was in Spanish (Side note: A lot of Kill Bill in Spanish clips on the good ol’ youtubes…)
1) Lindsey (as played by Lucy Liu) in Lucky # Slevin
I have a hard time mentioning Lucky # Slevin without also mentioning Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Both are terrific neo noirs with super witty dialogue and charming main characters. They also both have great female leads (KKBB has Harmony, played by Michelle Monaghan). And while I will say I like KKBB more as a film, Lucy Liu in Slevin just steals my heart.
Both female leads are willing to sort of jump in and accept the crazy situation at hand but Lindsey is just slightly more quirky, especially right from the get go.
Lindsey’s willingness to listen to a stranger and immediately bond with him is a quirky trait any guy would like. The fact that this awesome girl is out there and when she finds you, she’ll like you and want to be around you. The harmless flirting back and forth later turns into love.
Lindsey is not only unbearably cute but extremely smart and before we even have a chance to know who Slevin is she puts him through a seemingly innocent super-quick fast-paced interrogation. And before there is a mystery to solve she’s already on the case.
What Lindsey doesn’t know is that nothing is as it seems and by the end, when any ‘normal’ girl would have just walked away, she is still insistent on ‘seeing it through till the end’.
The way Liu can capture the perky energy while also being confidently shy about flirting with Slevin is something most romances don’t have. In this movie the two main (male and female) leads don’t just look at each other and know they are in love… they actually develop a bond and chemistry mostly through dialogue, but also through a couple ‘sneek peeks’… (note: you can stop watching this super chunk of a clip at the 6:30 mark…)
(LOVE so much about her performance here but ESPECIALLY the way she says ‘Thanks for the sugar, ‘Sugar” and sort of openly dance/celebrates the corniness/cuteness of it and her pride in being able to successfully flirt with such a care free character like Slevin)
Again, these crushes are examples of great movies having great characters, being portrayed by great actresses. If any one of those ‘greats’ was missing, the Film Crush aspect just doesn’t hold up.
These aren’t just beautiful women or actresses at the top of their game… These are characters I wouldn’t mind spending more time to get to know… over a couple of drinks at the bar…
(Except for Hanna because she’s too young and Elle Driver because she also scares me.)