Monday, August 21, 2017

Michelle Pfeiffer: Married to the Mob


Revisiting—or in a few cases, watching for the first time—and celebrating the work of Michelle Pfeiffer, the best actress of my lifetime.

Jonathan Demme's satirical tale of one woman's quest to free herself of the mafia life, Married to the Mob (1988) is an underrated gem, an absolute joy to watch, and at times riotously funny. Everything about it is subversive and smart, nothing more so than the tremendous lead performance by Michelle Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer is electric as Angela de Marco, a recently widowed mob wife trying to restart her life and make a clean break from her husband's mobster ties. She uses her best physical asset as an actress—those big, expressive blue eyes, as deep and as calming as an ocean—to expose Angela's vulnerabilities early and often. It's in the way she looks sad and adrift in a room full of (crazy) people, or in how a longing glance reveals her interest in a sweet FBI agent, played wonderfully by Matthew Modine. Pardon the cliche, but Pfeiffer's eyes truly are a window into both her soul and the souls of her characters.

The film also allows Pfeiffer to show off her gift for comedy. She's the centerpiece of this madcap romp, with both the mob and law enforcement trying to control her, and she rolls with the film's manic energy with aplomb. She's hilarious here, full of New Yawk toughness and grace under fire, but all the while showing us Angela's tenderness and her very real desire to live a better life. It's a terrific film, full of life and energy, and featuring a beautifully realized and touching performance from Pfeiffer. Both the film and her work in it are worth revisiting and celebrating all over again.

4 comments:

  1. Another well done appreciation piece, Michael. She clearly is a versatile actress. Have you caught her in Madoff yet? Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, and yes I just watched this year's The Wizard of Lies fa few weeks back. Tremendous, controlled, and heartbreaking performance. She's still got it!

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  2. Angela De Marco is one of a handful of La Pfeiffer's unarguably great performances and she's one of the most enduring film characters of the 1980s, too. Michelle never won many awards but damn did she ever excel, but it's all in the timing isn't it?

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    1. I agree, Angela is one of her best performances. She's beyond adorable here, plus resilient, funny, vulnerable, thoughtful, smart, and on and on. It's a tremendous performance, very rich and nuanced, full of beautiful layers.

      It is in the timing, it seems. She has certainly deserved more awards, but then again awards are questionable at best, completely meaningless at worst. I'm just glad we have these incredible performances from her to savor, over and over again.

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