Monday, March 3, 2008

Emmy Rossum - A Voice


One of the most often overlooked aspects of acting for cinema, television, or the stage is the singular quality of an actor's voice. There's a lot I could elaborate on here - Slavoj Žižek does a very nice job of elaborating on the affect of voice in his "Pervert's Guide to the Cinema". Professor Žižek discusses the fact that voice is not an organ, yet is is very much part of us, like our eyes, our skin color, our smile, our height and weight - etc. Yet voice is, biologically, a matter of muscles contracting, contouring and shaping air. And, yet, from this series of motions, we get a singular and unique attribute - - - one that is of major importance in the performing and visual arts. He uses examples from The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, The Great Dictator, and The Exorcist as examples of the "power" of voice through cinematic representation.

Having said all that. My favorite contemporary voice belongs to Emmy Rossum. Ms. Rossum has a very fine singing voice (hell, I was raised by an opera singer, if I can't spot "talent" or a tonal "quality" in a voice, my Mother will spin in her grave until doomsday). But, it is not her singing voice (although, I think it is quite lovely) that I am completely enamored with. It's the sonority, timbre, and shall we say, sexiness of her speaking voice that I can't get enough of. How can I put this? It's a voice that I would never grow tired of, it's the antithesis of, I dunno, say Fran Drescher. I mean, no offense to Fran, but how long before you would contemplate sharpening the cutlery and performing a little nocturnal elective surgery??? On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, for me, is Emmy. Hell, I throw in her films before bed (although not often enought to warrant a "GONE TO BED" column - although "The Day After Tomorrow" is probably approaching 100 views), because I find her speaking voice to be calming - - like - oxygen. Listen to her in the following clip: Especially the "You Were Right" line.



Yeah, I love that scene. A nice exchange between two fine, young actors. I especially love the slight overcranking at the end of their kiss - just as their lips part we go to about 48 fps - nice little touch. Performances are such subtle, nuanced, fragile little things. I'm reminded here of Henry Fonda in "My Darling Clementine" or Judy Garland in "A Star is Born" or Sissy Spacek in "Carrie" or Morgan Freeman in "Shawshank Redemption" or dear God, we could go on and on - iconic, singular, irreplaceable performances that fuse not only character to actor and film, but to public consciousness. In my opinion, Emmy Rossum has a voice that could one day - tether her to a performance that could be one for the ages. Whether that may happen is folly to predict, but, I can say that
A. I think she's lovely (okay, hot)
B. Supremely Talented, and
C. I am in love with her "voice" - wouldn't mind her whispering to me at all...

I'm off Mates. Later.

1 comment:

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