From decline to ascension

Daniel Céspedes Góngora

Kristen Stewart is Jean Seberg in Seberg (Benedict Andrews, 2019) and Tilda Cobham-Hervey is Helen Reddy in I Am a Woman (Unjoo Moon, 2019). The American actress and the Australian singer, respectively, were important references for audiences and mass culture in different settings and times of the northern nation.

The Seberg is perhaps remembered by some in Joan of Arc (Otto Preminger, 1957), for her involvement with Warren Beatty in Lilith (Robert Rossen, 1964) and for the musical western The Legend of the Un named City (Joshua Logan, 1969), in which she worked with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. However, these and other productions shot in the United States did not contribute much to his career, as his had already been enshrined in France. One of his most sounded hits was Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), in which he shared a scene with Jean-Paul Belmondo. It would soon be called by several European directors for fairly uneven performances. However, even today, Jean Seberg is considered an icon of the French nouvelle vague. She would give much to talk about for sympathizing and collaborating with the Black Panther Party or the Black Panthers. The loss of her second child (actually a child) and the pressure of work led to her suicide with a barbiturate overdose at the age of forty. Today , it must be said – she is an actress who speaks little.

Seberg (Benedict Andrews, 2019)
Seberg (Benedict Andrews, 2019)

Helen Reddy would play some musical roles in Hollywood. Perhaps the best known is My Friend the Dragon (Don Chaffey, 1977). One of the songs (Faro over water) that she performed in the Disney film conferred on her being nominated for an Oscar, in the best original song section. Before becoming the cultural icon she was and being as successful as her co-land and friend Olivia Newton-John, more than twenty record labels rejected her. But in 1970, her husband and administrator Jeff Wald managed to get her to sign a contract with Capitol Records. From then on, her life changed. He was able to position himself on the music charts with I don’t know how to love him, of the musical opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Now, I would cross American borders with I’m a Woman (1972), co-written with Australian musician Ray Burton. The song, titled the biographical film Unjoo Moon, became a feminist anthem in the convulsive political years of the 1970s. As seen in the biopic, she won the Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance. Recognition also sounded because in her acceptance speech, she thanked God by expressing “because she makes everything possible.”

After these biographical references of both artists, both Seberg and I am a woman, they try and manage to keep the most outstanding that contributes to the plot of these two women, who faced very similar conflicts, although their consequences, as is known, were very different. The best thing about Seberg, in addition to its staging, especially the performances of the Stewart, who cannot be better, and the actors Yvan Attal, Anthony Mackie, Jack O’Connell, Colm Meany, Vince Vaughn…, who, as characters, accompany her to support or fight her, is to enter the viewer in the relations between politics and film industry, although not since the latter , but from the attempt and achievement of disrupting the interiorities of a person, in this case the actress who, for more than one reason, decided to support the Black Panthers. Seberg’s physical and psychological fragility will be removed to the last consequences by the FBI.

Soy mujer (Unjoo Moon, 2019)
I am a woman (Unjoo Moon, 2019)

Reddy’s drama to start and then stay in a triumph race was not pink. She had to trust and she was de disappointed. Her struggle for women’s rights went beyond her songs. His own life, full of demands to come and dominate, amazes. Between following and contradicting her husband and opposing, as far as she could, the contracts that required her to interpret and even how, she would be in charge of corroborating what it is like to be an example of talent and determination. Tilda Cobham-Hervey comfortably plays Helen Reddy. Danielle Macdonald is masterful in her Lillian Roxon. But here we must bow to the Jeff Wald of the fascinating Evan Peters. American Horror Story’s celebrated Tate Langdon/Kit Walker/Kyle Spencer, what a great performance it offers now in I’m a Woman!

In addition to the film act itself, what do these films bring to the viewer? The reunion or first contact with the figures they are dealing with. Then, the contextuality in which each of them unfolded. Thanks to soundtracks, screenings, plots and well-connected plots, we attend, in times of constant biographical films, two revealing works: one of the expected decline and the other of the stimulating ascent.

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