Monday, October 6, 2008

Streep Esteem, Part IV: THE RIVER WILD

I would say that Meryl Streep's upcoming Oscar buzzy role in "Doubt" is the impetus for this post but, really, I wanted to revisit this blog's ongoing tribute to the world's greatest living actress simply because I miss her. I know what you're thinking: 'Meryl just starred in the box-office hit, "Mamma Mia!," stupid!' Too true; and Streep belted "The Winner Takes it All" like a champ, but that movie did a dreadful disservice to its actors, and a far less invasive way to experience their solid work is to download the soundtrack. (Trust me, you'll save yourself from a full-on assault of epileptic camerawork and freshman film major construction -- just skip the Pierce Brosnan tracks.) I love Meryl's sparingly used pipes almost as much as I love her ways with dialect, and such is the only reason I stop myself from wishing that the big screen ABBA musical never happened.

No, I miss Method Meryl. I miss Dig Deep Meryl. "The Devil Wears Prada" is a gift from heaven, but I miss Meryl from "The Hours." I miss Meryl from "Adaptation." I miss Meryl from "The River Wild." Wait -- huh? That wilderness flick with Kevin Bacon from the '90s? You're damn right.

This movie came out when I was 10 and I went to see it in the theater. I don't think I was old enough to appreciate the magnitude of the talent before me, but you can bet I was just as rocked as anyone else when she said to Bacon: "I CANNOT row this big water, man, that's the truth! I CANNOT DO IT!" Such power. Such raw honesty tied up with mounting fear. Such...Streepness. The clip I found online is not of that scene but of the majestic opening credits, photographed beautifully by the great Robert Elswit. And you better believe that's Meryl doing the rowing herself -- this is a woman who mastered the violin for "Music of the Heart." ...But, that's for another post.

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