Monday, 10 August 2015

RISING STAR: ALICIA VIKANDER


If you’ve been to the cinemas lately, you’ll have likely recognized one increasingly familiar face – that of Swedish actress, Alicia Vikander. With a show-biz mother and extensive background in dance, Alicia grew up surrounded by the influence of creative expression; an upbringing that sparked her own foray into the world of performance art. Following a stint in a popular Swedish television show, Alicia ultimately chose to pursue an acting career – a decision that has since led to universal praise from the critics and Hollywood insiders vying to get her in their next picture. From the looks of it, Alicia’s star shows no sign of dimming, as she lights up screens in this summer’s remake of the 1960’s TV classic, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Read on to see some of Alicia’s other films – and familiarize yourself with a face you’ll be sure to see for years to come!


Pure (2010)
This 2010 Swedish drama sees Vikander in the role of young  Katarina, a disgruntled 20-something seeking refuge from the throes of an alcoholic mother. With solace found, at last, in the form of music, Katarina is inspired to apply for a receptionist job at the local symphony. Once hired, she must grapple with the conflicting emotions she feels for the company’s married composer and current beau. Alicia’s film debut, Pure, earned Vikander several awards and positive critical attention, setting her firmly on the path towards stardom.


A Royal Affair (2012)
A Royal Affair is an Academy Award-nominated period flick telling the story of one of history’s most compelling love triangles. Alicia plays the female lead, Princess Caroline Matilda, who is the wife of the mentally ill Christian VII of Denmark. The film focuses on her affair with the royal physician – played by Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen – and the subsequent drama that unfolds because of it. Lauded by critics everywhere, The Royal Affair proved to the as yet unconvinced Hollywood-types of Vikander’s ability to deliver a nuanced performance in a starring role.


Anna Karenina (2012)
2012 was a big year for Alicia with the release of both A Royal Affair and Joe Wright’s adaptation of the classic novel, Anna Karenina. Vikander plays Kitty, a newly-introduced lady of society whose affections are scorned by cavalry officer Count Vroksny. Though initially humiliated by the slight (it happens that Vronsky favors the arms of married Anna Karenina, played by Keira Knightley), Kitty eventually finds happiness with the kind-hearted Konstantin Levin. Vikander puts on an impressively convincing British accent, carrying off a skilled performance that echoes those of Wright’s other ingénues, Carey Mulligan and the aforementioned Knightley.


The Fifth Estate (2013)
Alicia stars alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl in this thriller that highlights the ever-controversial information-sharing site, WikiLeaks, and its creator. Vikander plays Brühl’s wife, a deviation from the Hollywood corset dramas she was previously known for. Though only a small role, Vikander’s involvement in the film served to further place her on the Hollywood map as one of the industry’s most sought after actresses.


Testament of Youth (2014)
Based on the memoir of the same name, Alicia shines as Testament of Youth’s leading lady and wartime heroine, Vera Brittain. The film centres around Brittain’s experience during the First World War as she abandons her academic pursuits at Oxford to become a combat nurse. A sweeping autobiographical tale of love, strength, and sorrow, Vikander plays the starring role with notable aplomb, with critics hailing her performance as “glorious” and “thrillingly astute”.


Seventh Son (2014)
Seventh Son is an adaptation of a young adult sci-fi book series. Alicia plays the subtly nefarious love interest to Ben Barnes’ witch-hunting protagonist, Tom Ward, whose mother is a member of an evil coven. Using the powers of seduction, Vikander’s character earns Ward’s trust and affection, thereby ensuring her an insider’s view of his machinations against the witches. In spite of the film’s negative reception, Seventh Son marks Alicia’s first foray into the world of science fiction – a career move she would resume once more in the 2015 hit, Ex Machina.


Ex Machina (2015)
This British sci-fi flick sees Vikander in the role of Ava, an attractive A.I. who must convince her monitor, Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson), of her humanity. As their relationship flourishes and the true nature of the experiment is revealed, loyalties are tested and compromised with the increasing complexity of the situation. Ex Machina is a head-spinning thriller bolstered by the two leads’ chemistry and Vikander’s magnetic screen presence – the latter of which The Hollywood Reporter deemed “the heart of the film”.


The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Vikander stars in this 1960’s reboot as Gaby Teller, the niece of a mysteriously MIA German scientist. Vikander rounds out Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill’s crime-busting duo with her verve and spunk, even managing to charm (and tame!) Hammer’s explosive KGB agent, Illya Kuryakin. As the only lead towards infiltrating a criminal organization, Gaby becomes a valuable asset in the race for mankind’s salvation from nuclear destruction. Alicia is electric in the role, creating a palpable chemistry with Hammer and wearing the Mod fashions of the era as if she were a 1960’s gal herself.


SEE ALICIA IN THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. 14 AUGUST.