January 7, 2007

Supporting Actress Blogathon: Deborra-Lee Furness



Deborra-Lee Furness as "Jude" in Jindabyne


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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on description of Deborra-lee, and her magnificent turn in Jindabyne. She literally jumps out at you in every scene she's in.
Do hope she returns to the screen more in the future, her talents should be on display more often.

Middento said...

You know, I didn't really care for the movie (I couldn't get Altman's treatment of the same story in Short Cuts out of my head), but you're right: Furness' performance is dead-on powerful. Thanks for reminding me of this great perf.

DL said...

I feel so bad about not putting Fiona Shaw on the video. I wanted to, really. But I just couldn't find a picture of her. :(

Kamikaze Camel said...

Thanks guys! And DL, I had that trouble too, but eventually got one at outnow.ch - which is a great place to get movie stills that you can't find on google. Even though the website is in another language, it's easy to do. Just search for the film title and when it comes up click "die bilder" to the side. Easy.

Anyway. Thanks again. Deb deserves it!

J.J. said...

A bit off-topic, but: Lantana! One of my top 10 a couple years ago. Just terrific and woefully overlooked.

adam k. said...

Is Jindabyne available in the US?

Of all the Australian films you talk about, it's the one I'm most interested in seeing.

StinkyLulu said...

Thanks, Kamikaze, for making this a must-see. Very exciting...

Ali said...

Oh my, yes. If the film released this year, she'd definitely be in contention for my Supporting Actress prize (battling it out with Blunt.) She's surely a frontrunner for next year personally. This was a really sharp, cutting performance, and it certainly kept Linney (who rocks too) on her toes. I love it when an actor is this unpredictable and interesting. She's not afraid to make her character unlikeable, but exactly the opposite happens. You can see the situation from her point of view, which adds to the film's moral complexity. Lovely Glenn!

Craig Hickman said...

Wow. I wanna see this movie. Her performance sounds fabulous.

Hope I can get the chance.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Yeah, you would think Deb's character would be unlikable (ney, should?) because she doesn't see the problem with what the men did. But really, it's just her trying to keep her family alive. She's already experienced more tragedy than she ought to in her life (the death of her daughter) and she is not going to just sit down and watch her family get abused.

Adam, it's released in April I believe, but I'm not entirely sure.

Anonymous said...

I have the DVD and find DLF not to be all she's hyped up to be. Have a couple other movies of hers, and the same applies. I am sorry to see her be such a sloppy person when out in public with her family. He hair is always a mess and her clothes(Goodwill Store?) leave much to be desired. I find it a poor reflection of her respect for her family and herself. The paps try to keep her out of the photo shots for this reason. If she is in a picture it always has one of the kids in front of her hiding her appearance. I think if she really love her husband, she would make every effort to present herself to a better advantage. After all, it's not like she can't afford to dress properly and do away with the fried, straw hair. Give up the bleach. And what's with the three different birth years on Bio pages, when you can find one. There is no info on where she was born, the date of birth, month and day. She must be lying about her age. Nothing wrong with being older that Hubby, so why the secrecy? Would like to see her come out and give a little to the public to help us understand where she is coming from.

David said...

I have just seen Deborra-Lee Furness on television talking about overseas adoption. What a wonderful combination of compassion, common sense and plain, common decency. This lady is truly an inspiration to all. Well done.

C.F-P said...

I'm not a Deborra-lee fan. She's a competent actor with a limited skill range. If she understood her strength was not in aspiring to be a star but in character roles, she may have developed into a more competent actor. Dame Margaret Rutherford should have been her role model, not the limelight of Hollywood that saw her acquire that appalling nose job. None of this hype surrounding her would exist if she hadn't married Mr Jackman (who is an excellent actor and screen presence). I saw her TV speech on overseas adoption in Australia, too. Good on her for finding another outlet for her energy. Sadly, for all her verbosity on the plight of parents trying to adopt, her report ended up being overwhelmed by her inability to stop performing. It became a celebrity star turn. She wasn't in touch with the audience she spoke to, and her desire to appear compassionate and informed came across as a performance. All kudos to Mr Jackman for shouldering the mistakes of his youth, and soldiering on with such weighted coat tails.