Jessie Buckley – Men: portrait of a strange actress

Jessie Buckley - Men
Metropolitan Films

The very impressive Men is not only the last film of the visionary Alex Garland: it is also the new Jessie Buckley, actress who has established herself in three years as the queen of borderline states and the disturbing strangeness, of Je just want to get over The Lost Daughter, going through the Fargo series.

This article is taken from Première n°530 (June 2022).

actress or actor “revelation”, which becomes a darling overnight, is the BA-BA of the cinema press. We hit you every month in First and that’s normal, it’s our job. Re Jessie Buckleythe epiphany article in mode ” who is this girl ? »it was three years ago, in the summer of 2019, when the release of wild rose, where the young Irish actress played a Scottish singer who dreams of becoming a country star in Nashville. From the first five minutes of the film, a dynamite cover of the country girl of Primal Scream in a harbor in Glasgow, it was over, the article wrote itself: a star is born. Buckley imposed his firepower, his emotional intelligence, his refusal of easy seduction, and scribblers the world over declared their love for him in return. The most prescribers of the lot, the most awake of the corporation, allowed themselves to recall that they had known Jessie Buckley for a while. She was already the big business of Jersey Affairtwo years earlier and, even before that, the adaptation of War and peace by the BBC and the series taboo by Tom Hardy. But no matter, the main thing was done: the world was (finally) crazy about Jessie Buckley.

Flash-forward three years later (today): what is currently happening with her is therefore no longer of the order of revelation. It’s about something else. In a handful of roles, the 33-year-old actress has created her own cinema territory. We now know what kind of film we are going to see when we talk about a Jessie Buckley movie. “It’s not just a coincidence”she explains to us on the phone one morning at the end of April. “The films follow one another without a real predefined plan, because an actress can basically only react to the projects that are offered to her. And you, the viewer, discover them at a different pace and in a different order from those in which I shoot them, so it probably takes on a different meaning in your eyes than in mine. That said, of course, what you see is the testimony of my taste, of my desire to film in provocative, inspiring, not cutesy things, which people can seize after the screening, which they can discuss among themselves. I don’t want to do entertainment for entertainment’s sake, something that has no consequences. »

Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear (Men): “Alex Garland is a real punk”

playful fantasy

But what exactly are we talking about? It all started in 2020, when Buckley attached his name to one of the really big movies released that year, I just want to end by Charlie Kaufman, a mental walk where she wandered in the mind of her partner Jesse Plemons, at several ages of her life, several branches of time, in a maze of floating and unreal sensations. Hallu, instant re-watching, feeling of holding the first masterpiece of the decade that was opening. Then there was season 4 of Fargo, a notch below the previous ones, certainly, but still a good barometer of the state of quirkiness of modern TV (verdict: very perched). Our new favorite actress had a blast as a serial-killer nurse from the 1950s, a kind of comic book Nurse Ratched, engaging in a whole host of reprehensible or eccentric activities, and paying homage, through her playful fantasy and precision cartoon of his game, to the tutelary figure of the small world of Fargo, namely Frances McDormand. Arrived in the meantime The Lost Daughter by Maggie Gyllenhaal, after Elena Ferrante, perhaps the straightest of the films that concern us here, but still a new mental puzzle, the methodical deconstruction of a psyche, where Buckley embodied the young version of the character played by Olivia Colman – she had been cast by Gyllenhaal on the recommendation of Colman herself – and with this role garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
On it tumbles Mena new portrait of a woman wondering about her past, wandering in a hostile world (a trompe-l’oeil British Eden, after the Greece of The Lost Daughter), subject to nightmarish visions. This particularly twisted horror trip signed by the brilliant jack-of-all-trades Alex Garland (the man behind 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Ex_Machina, Annihilation) not only sums up his own obsessions (death and rebirth, self-discovery in the form of an initiatory journey), but also seems to sum up her centers of interest. “And you haven’t seen anything yet!”comments the interested party. I recently shot Women Talking by Sarah Polley, based on the novel by Miriam Toews [Ce qu’elles disent, sur des femmes d’une communauté mennonite qui prennent la parole après avoir été agressées sexuellement par des hommes]which is really a film that dialogues with Men – right down to its title, by the way. »

Men: Alex Garland signs a brilliant horrific and feminist fable [critique]

Free spirit

Feminism as the thread of Jessie Buckley’s career? It’s a track, yes, that works as soon as wild rose and his thwarted dreams of emancipation. And which can also be heard in the title of the first song she recorded with Bernard Butler, former guitarist of Suede (one of the flagship bands of 90s Britpop), The Eagle and the Dove, borrowed from the poetess Vita Sackville-West, an eccentric aristocrat and lover of Virginia Woolf. Because, yes, Jessie Buckley sings, too. Not content with having recently been a hit in London in a revival of Cabaret, alongside Eddie Redmayne, she has just written and recorded a collection of songs in a lyrical and dark style, apparently inspired by musicians like Joni Mitchell, Beth Gibbons and Scott Walker. The Scrapbook For all our days that tear the heart comes out on June 10 and, in the first promo photos where she poses next to Butler, Jessie Buckley looks like an indie singer from the late 90s, early 2000s, with her Louise Brooks-style black bob, and her looks by in below implying that it should not be sought too much.
At the end of 90, beginning of 2000, it is precisely the period which saw the artistic blossoming of Charlie Kaufman and Alex Garland (the first with the scenario of In the skin of John Malkovichthe second with the novel The beach), the two strongest cinematic temperaments with which she has worked so far, and whose films best express the actress’s taste for die-hard artistic experiments. “Charlie and Alex are quite different from each other, but what they have in common is that they are authors, in the full sense of the term. The other common point is that they would probably resent me for using such a word! (Laughs.) They have such free spirits… They don’t want to cut corners, they refuse to give viewers anything pre-chewed. But without it being made aware or formulated in this way. It is simply the consequence of the way they look at the world. They are curious, they want to report what fascinates them and the way they have found is these unique cinema works. »

Men will be released in theaters on June 8. Here is an exerpt :

For I just want to endCharlie Kaufman had explained to Jessie Buckley that the girl she was going to play was “molecular”. “I didn’t even know what that meant! » During the filming, they exchanged poems by Anne Sexton or relaxation videos. The exchange of good practices continued with Alex Garland on the set of Menaround paintings, photos, Bulgarian songs. “Alex is very funny, very communicative. The best way to describe him is to say he’s a punk! Good old fashioned punk. The script of Men was very pure, very instinctive, written in one go. Alex then likes to bring together the team, the whole team, not only the actors, to try to analyze the script, the themes of the film, to extract things from it of which he was not even aware. » In I just want to end and Men, Buckley often finds herself confronted, as an actress, with the terrible challenge of having to tell the emotional state of her character without a word, or almost, only by reacting to the surreal (in Kaufman) or terrifying (in Garland) things that unfold before his eyes. A shadow of dread veils his gaze, a worried dimple freezes on his right cheek. “The world is strange, so absurd. I think that’s what these films are about first and foremost. » The world is strange, yes, and Jessie Buckley has become the face of our amazement.

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