Monday, January 2, 2012

A Brief Lament...

My dear James McAvoy, what has happened to your career?!

I am slayed.
So much promise after The Last King of Scotland and Atonement. And yet, I can't quite figure out what's happened since. Yes, there was Wanted, The Last Station, and X-Men: First Class, but tonight's viewing of The Conspirator just made me sad. Not because the film is one of the flattest things I've ever sat through, but because you had a hand in it.

You are undeniably a great talent. A fantastic dramatic actor with great comedy sense (as seen in Starter for Ten), you seemed destined for great stardom when 2007 ended. Yet that seemed to never quite catch on. Most of my peers--female and gay especially--have a deep fondness for your baby blues, but the rest of the world has forgotten you and latched on to a taller and edgier actor: Michael Fassbender. While he may have a mighty resum√© and a fierce quality that hasn't been seen in some time (and an, it was you who out-acted him in X-Men: First Class. You were here first, goddamnit!

Now don't get me wrong. I appreciate all of your films. I found you doing great work in Robert Redford's The Conspirator, but I need you to work with a director/screenplay worthy of your talents. I want you to have a Steve McQueen. I want you to be the Robert DeNiro/Leonardo DiCaprio to someone's Martin Scorsese. You deserve that, and I find you a flexible enough actor to be able to attract such talent. Action, animated comedy, period drama, prestige comedy, comic-book adaptation; the genres that you flip through with such ease shows that you're looking to establish yourself as an actor to watch out for, and yet you've had that designation for 5 years now. Time to shake it off and come out with a "HERE I AM" role deserving of your talents.

Perhaps netting the lead in Danny Boyle's next film is exactly what you needed. He seems to be on a roll of late, and the project seems interesting enough to give you something different to work with. You will be working opposite Vincent Cassel though, so watch yourself and don't let that scene-chewer upstage you.

And avoid films that make you grow a beard. Stop fighting the hot.


  1. What an interesting and well thought out blog about James McAvoy's career.

    As an ardent fan of him, I share some of the same thoughts about his career and its future.

    However, much of the past couples of years may be explained and even justified by his decision to having some personal time with his wife in 2008, a decision to do London theater that afforded him the luxury of staying home in 2009 and the birth of their son in 2010.

    The last required that in he withdraw from the film '50/50' shortly after filming started. The film has gone on to receive strong reviews from critics and garner a few award nominations for it and his replacement, Joseph Gordon Levitt.

    We will never know if these nominations would have been given to McAvoy too, but it does reaffirm his good judgment of scripts.

    As for The Conspirator, your assessment is shared by many fans. Although he received good reviews, it was a disappointment to see his talent under utilized in this film. If you listen to director Robert Redford's DVD commentary, you will hear him say that he had McAvoy restrain his performance to accommodate RR's vision of the film. I'm paraphrasing, but it is easy to see that the performance wasn't as powerful or as emotional as most of McAvoy's performances. A comparison to 'The Last King of Scotland' immediately comes to mind.

    Letting McAvoy unleash his anger would have greatly improved the tension of the courtroom drama and provided a more emotional ending to this otherwise "flat" performance and film.

    This seems ironic and especially disappointing considering that McAvoy was Redford's first choice for the role. Why cast him and then not use his talent to the fullest.

    The good news is that McAvoy has TWO films completed and is about to begin another adapted from a Irvine Welsh book. 'FILTH' has the same grittiness of Welsh's other books such as Trainspotting. It will be different than anything McAvoy has ever done. He should give Fassbender's performance in Shame some competition in this role too.

    If filmed like the book is written, it will return McAvoy to the form of his early works, such as The Last King of Scotland, Macbeth and Shameless.

    One of the two completed films is an indie film by writer/director Eran Creevy which is an action/political thriller with Mark Strong.

    The third film is Trance with Danny Boyle that you already mentioned. From the locations and synopsis provided, it should be a visually artistic film with lots of twists and turns.

    And then there is still the possibility of a sequel for X-Men or Wanted or both.

    So the only thing between McAvoy returning to his "destined for great stardom" status is the US distribution of these three films. Hopefully the "powers that be" will realize there are many of us hungry to see him again on screen displaying his immense talent and those beautiful baby blues.

    Only time will tell but keep the faith on this talented actor.

  2. Well, Anonymous that is an incredibly well-written response and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write this.

    I do understand that McAvoy took time off for family and the stage. I don't resent him that (in fact I think it's great and just shows what a great guy he is on top of his talent), I'm just lamenting his projects the last few years. After ATONEMENT it seemed he was the 'IT' guy in Hollywood, and yet nobody ever seemed to cash in on that status, least of all McAvoy himself. I'd say WANTED was close to it, but that film was always more a vehicle for Angelina Jolie than James.

    I can tel you're a fan, and I have very high hopes after hearing that the novel of FILTH is good. From what it sounds it'll be a departure for McAvoy, and that's precisely what he needs.

    Even though I lamented his leaving 50/50 when it happened, I have to admit that I think JGL did a fantastic job, and I couldn't see anyone else doing that. But I would be very interested to see how James' auditions shook down.