Marcia Gay Harden as Lear (and more): If I Were You

Pros: Harden is great

Cons: a bit too long with foils not up to Harden’s fury or pain


I’m a major fan of Marcia Gay Harden (born in La Jolla, CA in 1959, won a best supporting actress Oscar for the 2000 “Pollock” playing Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s wife)), and have just enjoyed her turn as the news network’s lead legal counsel on the second season of “The Newsroom” (which I thought was better than the first with less focus on the romantic entanglements of the younger staff members than on the first). In “If I Were You” (2012), written and directed by Canadian Joan Carr-Wiggin (“A Previous Engagement.’’), I thought she was very entertaining as the wife (Madelyn) whose husband, Paul (Joseph Kell) is cheating on her with a younger woman, a wannabe actress named Lucy (Leonor Watling) whom Madelyn keeps from killing herself.

The movie has its screwball elements, but is not really a comedy. Madelyn gets cast in an offbeat, semi-professional production of “King Lear” with her new pal/advisee Lucy playing the Fool. She went along with Lucy to an open-call audition and the director Rainer (Michael Therriault) thinks that Madelyn’s ranting on her cellphone behind him is a bid to be cast in the title role. It looks like Harden would make an interesting Lear, quite up to Shakespeare’s lines if still a bit young for the part

Madelyn hits the bottle hard, which I don’t find funny. I don’t think the liaison with a stranger (Aidan Quinn) encountered in the nursing home where both he and Madelyn are visiting dying Alzheimer-plagued parents is intended to be funny (romantic, sí; charming, sí!) Madelyn has another suitor a married co-worker  (Gary Piquer).

IMHO Kell is the weakest link, deserving of neither Madelyn or Lucy. And I think the 115-minute running length is a bit longer than it needs to be, but Harden is great and the movie deserves a larger audience than it had with barely a US theatrical release.


©2018, Stephen O. Murray

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