Marcia Gay Harden does it again…
by Martin Hafer
Although she’s not one of the most famous actresses in Hollywood today, I do think Marcia Gay Harden is possibly the most interesting. Despite some A-list pictures to her credit, Ms. Harden also has a real knack for appearing in low-budgeted but very high quality films–films that emphasize her exceptional acting talents and are films about people. So while you might not have heard about her movies like Canvas or Elsa & Fred or If I Were You, these are amazingly good films about people…people you could easily believe are real.
The latest offering featuring the actress is After Words–a terrific little film that features, once again, complex characters and a really unique performance. It begins with a librarian, Jane (Harden) leaving for a trip to Costa Rica. She’s vaguely dissatisfied with life and has no one with which to share it. She also is contemplating taking this exotic trip and at its conclusion, killing herself!
When she arrives in the country, a handsome young guide, Juan (Óscar Jaenada) offers to show her around this tropical paradise. He is strapped for cash and the viewer is led to expect that he’s just a womanizer out to take advantage of yet another middle-aged woman. But, in a nice twist, there is far, far more to their relationship. Through the course of their time together, they form a nice bond and learn from each other. He learns about her love for books and she learns about his love for life. What’s going to happen to them as well as he plans of suicide? See the film and watch their relationship slowly unfold.
There’s so much to like about this movie. The best thing is the acting. Harden is still that same terrific actress you’d expect but Jaenada is also terrific and an excellent choice for the film. While this Spanish actor isn’t famous thoughout the world, I loved him in the recent film about the famous Mexican comic, Cantinflas. His impersonation of Mario Mareno was captivating. I’d sure love to see more of these two. Apart from the great writing, the script is unusual and enjoyable and it’s a decent little film for couples to watch–especially couples were aren’t necessarily young or hip. The film deserves kudos for featuring a 50-something actress who, down deep, is gorgeous, sensual and vital. The only thing I might mention is that there is a bit of nudity–though it’s tasteful and Harden looks marvelous. Well worth seeing and as of this week, this new film is available through Netflix. Enjoy and let me know what you think.