My So-Called Year Zero: Claire Danes’ faciality

As Homeland, the excellent spy-and-terrorist drama from Showtime, concludes what remains, over and above a powerful lingering desire for still more of its unexpected plot involutions and above-average characterisation, is the retina burn of Claire Danes’ face as she lapses into full-blown psychological meltdown. Booted out of the CIA and her carefully colour-coded timeline of the terrorist Abu-Nazir’s activities trashed before her eyes, Danes’ character’s life instantaneously implodes. Upon that perfect, alabaster face, once smooth as a tv screen is smooth, something arresting begins to unfold. An initial tremor before the full seismic effect is felt then each part is collapsing and folding, sliding towards the centre in an unimaginably ghastly gurn of grief and despair. Crisis ripples outward: another millisecond and the scene, its colours and shapes, objects in focus and out, appear to list towards the area occupied by that face (?) magnetised by some undefined source of destabilisation and chaos.

I recall now my interest cresting over that same puckered point on screen more than a decade ago while watching William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet (1996). Despite having watched Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968) hundreds of times, for me the tragedy and crisis of Shakespeare’s play were never so intensely commingled and dangerously distributed across the movie screen as they were that day: hideous, ten foot high facial contortions signalling something palpably more than the usual affect tethered to one particular character. (By comparison, the surface of Olivia Hussey’s beautiful, porcelain features -above- barely registered even the profoundest emotion.) I remembered then, watching a tv-series called My So-Called Life with my sisters, but only two aspects of it in any real detail: 1. the Cranberries poster in Angela Chase’s bedroom, and 2. spectacularly distressing  facial mutations provoked by adolescent misery whose reverberations I somehow succeeded in absorbing – wretched for days because of an adolescent televisual crush on a boy I’d never met.

This face, its astonishing poise and inevitable degeneration, compels our attention: oscillating between demonstrable locus of fictional, intra-diegetic emotion and protrusion of an undeniable real (Claire Danes cry face!) hers is the uncanny valley of filmic faces.


~ by schoolboyerrors on April 11, 2012.

2 Responses to “My So-Called Year Zero: Claire Danes’ faciality”

  1. Articles on Claire Danes! Love it !!! :)

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