Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Great Performance: Mick Jagger in "The Man from Elysian Fields"

Over the years, Mick Jagger has built up a small resume of acting roles, from Australian outlaw NED KELLY (1970) to futuristic villain in FREE JACK (1992). In 2001, Jagger took a supporting role in the independent film THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS. Set aside any preconceptions you may have about the Rolling Stone’s front man, and you will see a great actor at work in this film.

Elysian Fields stars Andy Garcia as a down and out writer with a family to feed and no income in sight. Garcia happens upon Jagger’s Luther Fox, owner of a private escort business that services affluent women about town. Yes, Jagger is a pimp—yet oh so stately and elegant! A desperate Garcia joins Jagger’s coterie and starts down that familiar road to personal downfall. In a secondary storyline, Jagger carries on a “business relationship”—years in length—with a fun-loving Anjelica Huston. Convinced he has found true love, Jagger declares his feelings with disastrous results.

Jagger plays the role with such quiet power. Taking on the persona of a refined Englishman, Jagger creates a character whose seductive elegance masks the essential seediness of his livelihood. Jagger employs his distinctive face with such mastery, moving from a benign world-weariness to utter devastation at his lover’s cruel rejection. He truly loses himself in this role—you are not watching “Mick Jagger” (and all the baggage that goes with it) on screen—and that in itself is quite a feat. This is a great performance, and one that made me see Jagger in a new light.

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