Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The understated roles of Russell Crowe

An Oscar winner, renowned for his tough-guy roles, Russell Crowe is no stranger to the Hollywood blockbuster. Despite his early acclaimed work in films such as Romper Stomper and LA Confidential, his heroic performance in Gladiator showed that he was capable of tackling a nuanced character in an action-packed environment, establishing him as a bonafide A-list actor. The iconic movie opened doors, allowing him to display his versatility in character studies and low key fare, such as A Beautiful Mind and State Of Play, which showcased a more reserved, but no less powerful Crowe. Fathers and Daughters sees him in his latest role, playing a Pulitzer-winning novelist and widower, struggling with mental illness as he tries to raise his 5-year old daughter.

The film is packed with acting talent such as Amanda Seyfried (Lovelace), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Jane Fonda (Klute), Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds), Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts Of The Southern Wild), and to celebrate the release, we take a look at some of Russell Crowe’s most understated roles.

Cinderella Man (2005)
The story of a washed-up boxing champion, Cinderella Man saw Russell Crowe playing blue-collar hero James Braddock. Struggling to keep a job in the Great Depression and unable to pay the bills, the ex-prizefighter is at rock bottom, but is offered one last chance to keep his family together and make his dream come true. Inspired by the true story of a sporting legend, Crowe’s journey from rags-to-riches is one that remains a real treat for film fans.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
A performance sitting in the shadows of his other well-known Western, The Quick and the Dead, 3:10 to Yuma sees Crowe as small-time rancher Ben Wade in this underrated battle of wills. Finding himself on a hazardous journey filled with ambushes by Indians, Wade’s demeanor is both convincing and stealthy in this intense, yet underestimated ride.

Body of Lies (2008)
Receiving mixed reviews, Crowe helped to bring this otherwise unexceptional film to note, with praise for stellar performances from its leading men. Standing alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Body of Lies saw the pair elevate the conventional political thriller, hatching a complicated plan to capture the cleric who led a group placing bombs all over Europe. Swapping his physical dominance for one where his strength lies with intelligence, Crowe’s brain was shown to be more powerful than his brawn in this modest role.

The Next Three Days (2010)
While the critical consensus stated Crowe’s performance to be solid, The Next Three Days remains a film unrecognised within his impressive collection. The story of John Brennan, who becomes obsessed with finding a way to break his wife out of jail when she is convicted of murder, Crowe showed great versatility as he moves from passive professor, to determined husband, to calculated mastermind in this fast-paced thriller.

Fathers and Daughters (2015)
Drawn to a script of such tenderness as Fathers And Daughters, Crowe was taken by the simple story of a parent-child relationship and the complications that can arise from life to tear it apart.
Playing a widower, novelist and loving father resolutely trying to raise his daughter as he fights mental illness, he brings a truly moving performance to an understated, character piece and, despite the wealth of acting talent around him, is the heart of the film.