Widely considered one of the most talented and versatile actresses around, Annette Bening has made a name for herself in a multitude of interesting, thought-provoking roles- in the process garnering four Oscar nominations, two Golden Globes, a BAFTA and a SAG. To celebrate the release of The Face of Love, available on DVD and digital platforms from February 2, 2015, courtesy of Signature Entertainment, we look back on some of her best roles.
The Face of Love (2013)
This understated, moving drama from Chumscrubber director Arie Posen, works from a highly unusual premise- Nikki (Bening) is a recent widow struggling to get over the loss of her late husband, when she unexpectedly meets Tom (Ed Harris) who happens to be a doppelganger of the man she loved for most of her life. As she embarks on a new affair with this doppelganger, the question arises as to whether she truly loves him or simply the memories he stirs. The film is also notable for featuring one of the final performances by the legendary Robin Williams.
Ruby Sparks (2012)
This charming romantic drama-fantasy also stars indie darlings Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, and tells the bizarre tale of writer Calvin Weir-Fields (Dano), who quite literally writes his perfect woman, Ruby Sparks (Kazan) into real life, leading to all manner of complications as he fights the urge to ‘write’ her behaviour to fit to his ideal relationship. A brilliantly offbeat meditation on the nature of free will, Bening plays Calvin’s free-spirited mother Gertrude.
Ginger & Rosa (2012)
This drama follows the lives of two teenage friends –the inseparable Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) — growing up in London in the 60s, as nuclear war and the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and the eventual shattering decision which defines their entire relationship. Bening features in a supporting cast that also includes Christina Hendricks and Timothy Spall.
The Kids are Alright (2010)
Bening was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her role in this comedy drama about the complications which arise after two children conceived by artificial insemination invite their father into their family life. Bening and Julianne Moore play Jules and Nic, a couple who are in a stable, committed but by no means perfect relationship, when their eldest daughter contacts her father, a previously unknown sperm donor. Mark Ruffalo plays Paul, the laid-back, unassuming father who becomes part of the family life despite the initial reservations of Jules and Nic.
Mother and Child (2009)
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, this compelling drama focuses on three women- fifty year old healthcare professional Karen (Bening), Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years ago, and Lucy (Kerry Washington) a woman who can’t conceive with her husband, so turns to adoption to give her the family she so desperately wants. Bening gives a brilliant performance as the spiky, embittered Karen, who never fully recovered from the ordeal of giving her daughter away, and who takes out her unhappiness on everyone around her- including potential romantic interest Paco (Jimmy Smits).
Being Julia (2004)
Bening was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her electric performance as Julia Lambert, the darling of the London stage in the 1930’s. Embarking on a passionate affair with young American Tom Fennell (Shaun Evans), she soon realises he is simply using her for his social climbing aspirations, and is more interested in romancing young ingénue Avice Crichton (Lucy Punch). Taking a trip to visit her mother abroad, she returns only once she has plotted a brilliant revenge…
American Beauty (1999)
Sam Mendes’ razor-sharp satire on suburban life picked up five Oscars and focuses on the mid-life crisis of Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey). Bening stars alongside Mena Suvari, Thora Birch and Peter Gallagher, and plays Lester’s wife Carolyn, a superficial and hugely materialistic stockbroker who begins an affair with Lester’s business rival Buddy (Gallagher).
Mars Attacks (1996)
This cult classic appears frequently on pundits’ greatest comedy lists, and with good reason- the sci-fi spoof boasts non-stop gags and a fantastic cast, including Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J Fox, Jack Nicholson and Glenn Close alongside Bening– all of whom thoroughly embrace the overt silliness of the Tim Burton– directed tale of alien invasion.
Bening met her husband Warren Beatty on the set of this Oscar-winning biopic, which charts the life of American mobster Bugsy Seigel (Beatty), who was instrumental in the development of the Las Vegas casino strip. Bening plays Virginia Hill- a mobster courier and Bugsy’s girlfriend, who went on to be referred to by Time magazine as ‘queen of the gangster’s molls’.
The Grifters (1990)
Bening stars opposite John Cusack and Anjelica Huston in this crime thriller about a small time con-man who has his loyalties sorely tested when his girlfriend and estranged mother clash. Bening and Huston were both nominated for Oscars for their roles in this psychologically complex tale, based on the novel by Jim Thompson, which used the seedy underground world of Los Angeles con artists and turned it into something unexpectedly poignant and compelling.
The Face of Love is available on DVD and digital platforms from February 2, 2015, courtesy of Signature Entertainment,
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