Sarah Polley is almost too smart for her own good.
By that, I simply mean that our industry doesn’t seem to have much use for smart, uncompromising actresses who also write and direct. It doesn’t know what to do with someone like that. The system isn’t made to reward these people because it flies in the face of what they expect from their female leads.
She’s been acting since she was six years old, and I first became aware of her in Terry Gilliam’s “The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen.” What I’ve always found interesting about her is how she seems unable to disguise her innate intelligence, and how that informs the roles she picks and what she does with them. Her first film as a writer/director, “Away From Her,” revealed someone who has a keen eye for human behavior and whose interests aren’t just limited to her own sphere of experience.
She is perfectly cast in Vincenzo Natali’s “Splice,” and both she and Adrien Brody are ideal choices to play super-smart rock star scientist nerds, drunk on their own ability to make life. Her character is the more complex of the pair, thanks in large part to a backstory that’s never quite spelled out, but instead is hinted at with various suggestions of an abusive childhood. Polley sells both the IQ and the hidden pain with aplomb, and she proves once again that she is one of the most striking film presences of her generation.
Before I walked into the room, someone warned me that Polley was a “terrible” interview, saying they were only able to get single-word answers out of her. I’m not sure what happened during their interview, but my experience with her was fairly different, and you can watch the interview for yourself to see.
She’s getting ready to make her second feature as a writer/director, “Take This Waltz,” which is set to star Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, and Michelle Williams, and I look forward to that, plus anything else this filmmaker has to offer, and I appreciate her taking the time for this conversation.
“Splice” opens everywhere today.
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