Jaclyn Jose shows the way–don’t act, just ‘be’
All stars and starlets should take their cue from Jaclyn Jose’s recent triumph at the Cannes Film Festival, where her performance in Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa” was rewarded by the prestigious competition’s jurors with the festival’s best actress trophy.
What made Jaclyn’s portrayal superior to other topnotch actresses’ superlative portrayals?
She strove really hard to follow her director’s strict dictum to the letter: “Don’t act—tone everything down to zero.” The result was a portrayal that was singled out in reviews for its “naturalistic grace.”
So, other Filipino actors who also want to win awards in festivals abroad should follow Jaclyn’s rigorous example and similarly “not act—just be.”
This is in complete contrast and contradiction of currently popular local practice, especially on drama series on television, which can be described as “act the heck out of every second you’re on-cam, for maximum impact and effect!”
Fact is, however, that’s deemed so passé and even dead and buried abroad, especially in Europe.
There, the thespic choice of style is no acting, no “pushing,” no “indicating,” with actors taking a long time understanding what makes their assigned characters tick—and then just “stepping into their shoes” and behaving and feeling, not as themselves, but as their assigned characters would.
Yes, the emotions an actor uses “in the service of the character” are still his own—but the motivations aren’t.
So, that gives him a certain “aesthetic distance” from the role that enables him to be “more objective” about his portrayal—even if his own emotions are being very subjective.
Jaclyn appears to have learned this key lesson well, hence her triumph at Cannes.
But, it must have been difficult to pull off “purely”—because, on local teleseryes like “Marimar,” she’s known for her “over the top,” even floridly “operatic” characterizations—which have diminished her thespic cachet of late.
How wonderful to see, therefore, that, when push comes to shove, and under the strict tutelage of a strict mentor-director, Jaclyn still had it in her to “divest” herself of her bad acting habits.
Instead, she went “back to the thespic basics” and focused, not on coming up with another entertainingly “showy” performance, but on the deepest feelings and motives of the title character she played in “Ma’ Rosa.”
Can other stars and starlets make this all-important shift? It’s a tall order, because some of them are proud of their ability to “act up a storm.”
It’s much more difficult to stop shouting and indulging in melodramatic and even operatic emotional breakdowns, and just be this quiet person—who turns out to have a torrent of unexpressed hurts and rages deep within.
But, they’d better do their utmost, drop all of their bad acting shticks and habits and go there—if they want to win prestigious awards!
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