Craig here, back with the third and final season of 'Take Three'.
This week: Melissa Leo
Take One: Red State (2011)
Leo gives an ugly yet riveting supporting performance as Sara in Kevin Smith’s Red State. She’s the matriarch with no maternal manners of the Five Points Trinity Church and wife to Michael Parks’ Phelps-like religious nutjob. We first see her open a trailer door to three horny teens who, we eventually gather, she entraps with the promise of a ‘good time’. She’s chugging a beer, resignedly eyeing these unsuspecting victims, playing her part in their “punishment”. Leo makes Sara immediately unlikeable. She’s a fully paid-up cult member either lost in ecstatic zeal (when Parks’ Abin spouts his bile-filled sermons) or riddled with utter contempt for ‘outsiders’ (all other times). But at no point does Leo deliver a two-dimensional portrait of hatefulness.
It takes a seasoned pro to make such a distanced and indefinably spiteful presence feel truly compelling. There’s something horribly absorbing about the way Leo carries herself. [More after the jump]