Deborra-Lee Furness. What to make of her. She came to prominence in the Australian film industry in titles such as Shame and Angel Baby after studing acting in America (where she appeared in Newsies amongst some others). She starred as Corelli on the Australian TV series of the same name (er, Corelli) where she met future husband and future sex-on-a-stick Hugh Jackman. Since then she has been very quiet, only appearing in guest roles on television shows such as SeaChange and directing a short film or two.
Then along comes 2006 and director Ray Lawrence. Lawrence's first feature was 1985's Bliss. His second? Well, that came a full 16 years later with the widely heralded masterpiece Lantana. Thankfully audiences didn't have to wait another 16 years, for Lawrence had decided to adapt the Raymond Carver's short story So Much Water So Close to Home as his third feature - Jindabyne. The short story was originally used as one of the many jigsaw pieces in the late Robert Altman's Short Cuts. It follows a group of men on a fishing trip who discover a young girl's body floating in the river. Instead of returning and tell the police they remain on their vacation as the body sits in the water. Jindabyne explores further what implications these actions have on the town and the people in it.
Furness plays the character of Jude, the wife of John Howard's Carl, one of the fishermen. She has recently taken up guardianship of her grand daughter, Caylin-Calandria, after the death of her daughter. A minor alcoholic, Jude struggles to deal with Caylin-Calandria's growing interest in sex and death while trying to protect her family against the growing anger spreading throughout the town.
Deborra-Lee gives one of the most stunning performances of the year. She does one of the things I love my supporting actresses to do. They charge through the movie at 200 km/h. You can witness this in another fabulous supporting turn this year that I loved - Fiona Shaw in The Black Dahlia. Furness is not content to let the international stars (Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne) take all the credit and quite simply steals the film away from them. While I am no Byrne fan (in fact, I am quite honest in my dislike for the man - although he is great in this film), the mere fact that Furness is able to pull the rug out from under LAURA LINNEY is no minor feat.
Furness comes into each scene with a sort of bravura swagger. Her, well let's be blunt, non-petite body frame acts as a sort of bulldozer, destructing everything in her path. She tears into her scenes with the fierce tanacity of a great white shark or blood-thirsty lion. She widens her eyes and phrases her words. She makes the viewer sit up and take notice as if sending telekenetic thoughts to the audience "YOU WILL NOT FORGET ABOUT ME"
Mission accomplished. She is the stand out. Everything she does just feel pitch perfect. Even when she accidentally walks into a wall (a biproduct of Ray Lawrence's near-strict one take policy) it feels noteworthy. Furness's Jude is a sad woman, but she's strong. She's powerful and resourceful and loves her family. Furness shows all of this beautifully. Her skill is amazing.
I just hope we don't have to wait this long to see it again on the big screen, because Deborra-Lee belongs on that silver screen just as much as her husband.
And that's why Deborra-Lee Furness is my favourite Supporting Actress of 2006.
Make sure you check out the comments as there's more discussion in there relating to this fabo performance.
Jindabyne is out now on DVD in Australia and (maybe?) New Zealand. It will be released throughout North America (hopefully) in April 2007. To view the trailer check out the official April Films site. Look out for it to be a presumed powerful source in the 2006 UMAs.
Now, if you didn't come here via StinkyLulu's Base of Operation then Go. There. Now. Check out all the other fabulous supporting actresses of the year of '06 - there were some real doozies this year! And do check out The Cellar Door's wonderful YouTube Tribute to the supporting ladies of 2006. Alas, my two favourites are not there, but that's to be expected. One wasn't released in America and the other is not exactly that well-liked.