30 September 1999 | hamlet65
Only diehard Jessica Lange fans need to watch this
If you are a major fan of Jessica Lange then I would rent this, otherwise stay away! While Ms. Lange's portrayal is interesting, I'm not sure it is the Blanche, that Tennessee Williams envisioned. At times her slyness distorts the character of Blanche's and gives her the appearance of being nothing more than a manipulative, self-centered woman. Blanche is a woman holding onto her sanity by the skin of her delicate fingernails. Her lies and illusions are her retreat from the cold reality of life and the bad hands of cards she has been dealt. "Streetcar" is a series of encounters between the Kowalski world and the Blanche DuBois world. Each of these encounters will intensify with each subsequent meeting. The conflict is between the oversensitive aristocratic world of Blanche and the brutal, realistic, present-day world represented by Stanley. But as an afternote, it should be added that Stanley is the type of person who likes his "cards on the table." He doesn't go in for subtleties and deception that Blanche has created to survive. As for the rest of the cast, ugh. Diane Lane is adequate at best, she can read lines but she's nothing to telegram home about. John Goodman is all wrong with to start with and he only gets worse as the film goes on. At times I felt like I was watching one of the "dramatic" episodes of Roseanne, which were always self-serving and preachy. I've seen better acting in high schools. This leaves Alec Baldwin who can be summed up with one word - why? His acting is so pedestrian; it's amazing he even works. He is horrible in this production; I now can understand why his performance in this role on Broadway elicited belly laughs. The audience wasn't laughing with him they were laughing at him. He preens and over-emotes, uses an accent (? Strange yet geographically untraceable) then changes it mid-sentnce. One of the most challenging roles in the theater due to its predecessor and the demand of acting with the fullness and variety of a brash jazz band, Baldwin's register is that of a kazoo. He prisses about and poses then delivers lines as though he's reading them for the first time. At times it seemed as though Blanche wasn't physically afraid of him, but more afraid that he was going to go into her trunk and start parading around the apartment in her wardrobe and "tributes from an admirer". If anyone doubts his abilities, this performance will confirm all your suspicions. Save for Ms. Lange's performance this "Streetcar" belongs on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is almost like a work of science fiction. It is that jaw-droppingly bad. While the 1951 version certainly has superior actors, the Ann-Margaret-Treat William's "Streetcar" is a true ensemble production in which all four principals shine. This production is truer to the theme of the play of the artist (Blanche) ultimately being destroyed by realism and the harsh realities of a world that does not understand her (represented by Stanley).