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Rachel Weisz: A Brewing Renaissance?

Currently on screen in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, Rachel Weisz has so many upcoming movies, she got Murtada wondering if a renaissance is brewing...

My Cousin Rachel

The Lobster is doing gangbusters in limited release and with critics. To these eyes it is uneven and Weisz is absent from its best part. In fact her performance is so bland, it weakens the second half of the movie particularly in comparison with the highly entertaining first act where Colin Farrell and particularly Olivia Colman are exultingly funny. Even when Weisz is front and center she seemed lost, not sure of the rhythm of the film. A supporting player like Lea Seydoux, with much less screen time, was more in sync with Lanthimos and the rest of the cast and outshines Weisz in the section they share...

Same with last year’s Youth. Despite plentiful screen time and a long monologue delivered with the camera squarely on her face in a closeup, she was outshined by Jane Fonda’s shorter but livelier monologue. However she emerges the winner from the trailer for the this fall’s The Light Between Oceans, with Nathaniel calling it “a sure bet baity part at this point in the year” and predicting her to be Oscar nominated. The early September release date in the no man’s land after the end of summer and before the fall prestige season implies that the distributor might not have faith in the movie’s prospects. But if anyone can muscle themselves to the Kodak with that release date it’s Weisz. She did it a decade ago when she won for a movie released on the same corridor.

Weisz’s Upcoming Movies

on the set of Denial

Complete Unknown
Joshua Marston’s long awaited follow up to Maria Full of Grace (2004) received middling reviews at Sundance, despite the presence of Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates and Danny Glover. No release date yet.

A real life story about historian Deborah Lipstadt who was sued by an outspoken Holocaust denier. In post production.

Deep Water
James Marsh’s follow up to The Theory of Everything (2014) is another real life story about a man’s “disastrous attempt to win the 1968 Golden Globe Race, ends up with him creating an outrageous account of traveling the world alone by sea”. Colin Firth is the lead and Weisz is his wife. In post production but hasn’t been picked for distribution in US yet.

My Cousin Rachel
An adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's gothic romance about a young Englishman (Sam Claflin) who inherits his guardian's estate, and begins to suspect the grieving widow (Weisz)  of murder while falling in love with her. The novel was adapted in 1952 with Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton. Already a downgrade because even if you are a fan of Weisz, Claflin is no Burton. Currently filming.

The Favourite
A reunion with The Lobster’s Lanthimos and Colman with the addition of Emma Stone. It’s an Amadeus- like story about the political machinations during the reign of Queen Anne (Colman) with Stone as a young apprentice at court tryig to usurp her cousin (Weisz) as the Queen’s confidante. Announced last year but seems to have fallen off the radar specially after Lanthimos announced another movie.  

This is a lot so it’s certainly quantity, but is there quality? Some of the directors are interesting, some of the stories are, but are you burning to see any of these? Weisz has her fans, though. Are you one of them? 

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Reader Comments (28)

I really liked her in Youth, a strange yet lyrical movie that I felt featured strong acting across the board. Best Actor should have been Caine's.

We're seeing The Lobster this weekend, so fingers crossed!

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Interesting reaction to The Lobster. I on the other hand felt that Weisz was incredibly warm and funny and helped to shift the gears of the film between the two halves. I mean, the scene on the couch with the guitar playing...

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

I agree with Tom M. I think because everyone in The Lobster is so nuts, her calmness can be mistaken for blandness.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCris

I love her work, and I'll be looking forward to The Favourite and My Cousin Rachel. I thought she was the standout in The Lobster (though Olivia Colman was super too).

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

She did get the tone of Youth,that monologue even though i prefer Fonda was beautifully delivered.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Her performance in The Lobster is not weak. Think of the character she's playing then reevaluate her work.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

She seemed completely at sea in The Lobster and in a separate movie to the rest of the cast.

Though I must admit I've just never had that moment where she's 'clicked' for me. With all of her acting I get an 'eager drama grad auditioning for the first time' vibe.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Tom M - don't remember that scene.

goran - same.. although I was impressed by her in The Deep Blue Sea

ScottC - agreed on The Favourite... hopefully it happens

May 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterMurtada Elfadl

Love her and have since The Mummy. She was extraordinary in The Deep Blue Sea and The Whistleblower and deserved her Oscar for Constant Gardener despite the fact it was in the wrong category.

Looking forward to all her upcoming films. Especially eager for My Cousin Rachel though I'm in agreement that Claflin is no Burton but the de Havilland/Burton version wasn't as fully realized as it might have been so I'm glad to see it getting another treatment and she's a good fit for the lead.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I still think about her brief turn in About a Boy. She gave that film its heart, and a reason for manchild Hugh Grant to finally improve upon himself. I keep waiting for the return of that RW, the quiet grace that pulls a movie's focus from its intended protagonist. Haven't seen The Lobster yet, but I like that she's at least trying on subtlety for size again.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

Love her and I think her future projects sound interesting. She has an eye for an intelligent script, and is always capable of a perceptive performance. Lobster reminded me of her work in "About a Boy", I didn't find it weak.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I super disagree with the comment about Weisz's performance in Youth. She was easily better than Jane Fonda, who was basically just a cartoon caricature. Will never understand why she was a part of the Oscar conversation.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid S.

She was fantastic in About A Boy. What a super run she had from 2002 through roughly 2006. (The Lovely Bones definitely stopped it cold.) Would we call this a Weiszurrection?

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Have to agree with David S.... Let down by Fonda's monologue. Didn't really seem that groundbreaking, despite how much I enjoyed it and her. For my money, Fonda's 30 seconds on the plane are more visceral and thrilling and worthy than her first scene altogether. Youth and Sorrentino also LOVE Weisz, as she gets some of the film's most beautiful moments (that entire monologue she builds in subtle little waves, her entire silent reaction as her father explains why he doesn't want to conduct the Simple Songs for the Queen, and the pan down to her during the Ceiling Gazing montage). She is a genius at the serene smile she is.

I'll never forget an interview of sorts with Almodóvar (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/magazine/08cruz-t.html?_r=0), where he names Weisz among the actresses he considers to come from what he called the "Mediterranean school of acting" (lol).

I loved her long before then, but it was there that it clicked WHY I loved (and continue to love) her so: she has this subtle carnality, a way with tenderness, and as James from Ames wrote, a quiet grace, that can build just as well into a tremendous tempest.

She's not the greatest actress of her (or any other) generation, and she has limits, but I have never seen her be "bad" or even "mediocre." Her weakest performances still carry this wonderful candor and frankness. And when she's at the top of her game (The Constant Gardener, The Shape of Things, The Brothers Bloom, Youth), or even when she's just the best thing about her film (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Mummy, My Blueberry Nights, About a Boy), she's in a class all her own, a marvelous blend of classic star incandescence, vaudeville chic, and post-modern self-awareness and irony.

She's my favorite actress, and to this day, I cannot believe she won that Oscar. Here's to a second one day soon! And a BAFTA! She also seems a wonderfully down-to-earth woman in interviews and real life. And that LAUGH.

Anyway, I'll stop now. Nathaniel, I'm a long time fan and reader of your blog, and I have to ask: are you a fan of Weisz, or more indifferent to her? I don't ask in a bullish way, I'm just genuinely curious. You never seem terribly enthused by her (though I'm glad another favorite, Nick, loved her win for Constant Gardener, and considers it highly in the all-time scale), so I had to ask.

Can't wait to see her in NYC this autumn, performing in Plenty at the Newman Theater with Corey Stoll!

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterManny

She was magnificent in Deep Blue Sea. Although she won the NY Film Critics Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe, the Academy passed her up for cute lil' Quvenzhane Wallis' non-performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, making her omission (and Marion Cotillard's for Rust and Bone) doubly insulting.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Yes we will have to sit through Sam Clafin but Rachel is a meaty part and Weisz immediately leaped in my mind as a suitable substitute for Olivia De Haviland. Denial might also garner some attention. We will see how Light Between the Oceans does this year. So far there have not been very many shots at the supporting actress trophy this year.

side note: There are so many Toms reading this blog! We all need to get together sometime!

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I'm a big fan of the novel of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS, and while it's very easy to imagine her in the role, I'm not sure it'll show us anything we haven't seen from her before. That said, I'm always excited to see Weisz in basically anything.

May 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Love her, and put me in the camp that thought she greatly outshone Jane Fonda in YOUTH.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

that's a lot of work for someone who could be at home banging daniel craig

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Regarding Weisz in The Lobster , that's just what her character is like and, specifically, the tone and delivery that Lanthimos wanted from her. She's spoken about that in interviews (during the press tour when the movie came out here in the UK in late 2015).

And for any Weisz deniers... just go watch The deep blue sea and check in with us after that ;) I liked her before but have loved her since I saw that. Should've definitely have been Oscar nominated and I would´ve given it to her too... I mean, JLaw's work in SLP is not even comparable. And she also has great taste for directors and is great at chasing them up and establishing working relationships. That's how she ended up working with Lanthimos and Sorrentino.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

The writer of the post is such a hater xD I'm getting those vibes.
Anyway, Go Queen

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I'm surprised you think that about Rachel in The Lobster, because I thought she totally understood the tone. She was a little more understated than the rest of the cast, I agree, but that scene where they were kissing on the couch was executed perfectly, and she made it so so funny.

I adore her. Even in nonsense like The Land Girls, and Brothers Bloom, she always brings an unforgettable presence!

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJB

The favorite didn't fall, Yorgos said he wanted to rewrite the script that.

Weisz has other projects that are not showing in her imdb page:

1) Disobedience (No date) - Ronit - A young woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish home after learning of the death of her estranged father, causing an upheaval in the quiet community, when she rekindles a repressed love with her best friend – a woman now married to her cousin. - Book: Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

Director: Sebastian Lelio
Writer: Sebastian Lelio
Producer: Rachel Weisz, Frida Torresblanco

2) The Mothers (No date) - Jess - The story follows Jesse (Weisz) and her husband as they go on a heartrending, frustrating, and ultimately touching journey to adopt a baby. The couple is initially naïve to the adoption process, but have their eyes opened as they travel the country to meet potential birth mothers while navigating sticky bureaucratic red tape. The story explores issues of race, class, and culture, and examines the idea of what it truly means to be a parent. - Book: The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore

Writer: Lisa Loomer
Producer: Celine Rattray

3) Rachel Roberts Biopic (No Date) - Rachel Roberts - British actress Rachel Roberts, an Oscar nominee herself and the wife through the 1960s of Rex Harrison. Roberts, a huge success and much admired, was known for a long resume that included her nomination– for “This Sporting Life” in 1963, to “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” The actress committed suicide in 1980 at age 53, rather violently. She left a diary of her entire life right up to the end which was eventually published as “No Bells on Sunday: The Rachel Roberts Journals.”

Writer: Phyllis Nagy ("Carol" writer)

4) Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm (No Date) - Mardi Jo Link - When Mardi Jo Link finds herself a newly single mother after nineteen years of marriage, she makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to stay in her century old-farmhouse and continue raising her three boys on well-water, chopping wood, and dirt. Armed with an unflagging sense of humor and a relentless optimism that would put Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to shame, Link and her resolute accomplices struggle through one long, hard year of blizzards, foxes, bargain cooking, rampaging poultry, a zucchini-growing contest, and other challenges. - Book: Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link.

5) Thirty Girls (No date) - Jane, The Journalist - Esther is a Ugandan teenager abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities, who is struggling to survive, to escape, and to find a way to live with what she has seen and done. Jane is an American journalist who has traveled to Africa, hoping to give a voice to children like Esther and to find her center after a series of failed relationships. In unflinching prose, Minot interweaves their stories, giving us razor-sharp portraits of two extraordinary young women confronting displacement, heartbreak, and the struggle to wrest meaning from events that test them both in unimaginable ways.With mesmerizing emotional intensity and stunning evocations of Africa's beauty and its horror, Minot gives us her most brilliant and ambitious novel yet - Book: Thirty Girls by Susan Minot

Director: Haifaa Al Mansour

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I'll be seeing Complete Unknown on Thursday, June 2 during it's Seattle International Film Festival screening, and I'm quite excited. Not sure if this is world premiere or not.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris K

I've always been fond of her, but she was truly a revelation in The Deep Blue Sea

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I liked her in both The Lobster and Youth, despite being agitated by the films themselves.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Burton was no Burton either when he made My Cousin Rachel.

May 28, 2016 | Unregistered Commentervladdy

:O what did you say


May 28, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter...

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