This is pretty typical of me. I’m always charmed by some actress or another. Always have been. Favorites going back include Kate Winslet and Aishwarya Rai. All-time favorites those two. More recently there’s been Romola Garai. Before that there was Sarah Polley. Of course let’s not forget Natalie Portman, for whom I even schlepped up to NYC once to see on Broadway. Actresses all, whose very presence in a movie is reason enough for me to see it.
Lately it’s one Shirley Henderson. We saw her in the Andrew Davies adaptation of Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. Dawn’s been on a Trollope reading kick, much like me and Patrick O’Brian, I suppose. And she loves the British murder mysteries that they show on weekends on the Biography Channel, shows like Midsomer Murders and Poirot. Poirot stars the odd little man David Suchet as the fey little Belgian Hercule Poirot, and he’s the Augustus Melmotte character in The Way We Live Now. And so anyway, what with Dawn’s Trollope and Suchet proclivities lately, she put The Way We Live Now on the Netflix list and we watched it.
I watched it at first under some duress, but quickly fell hard for Shirley Henderson as Melmotte’s daughter Marie, pursued by all the useless young gentlemen of London society and especially pursued by the especially useless Felix Carbury. There’s this amazing moment early on when Felix first declares his intentions to Marie. He kisses her, and she pulls away for a moment, considering him and herself and the situation and what she should do versus what she wants. And then she grabs him and kisses him back with this ferocious intensity, this need and desire and lust and abandon. I suppose that moment, the man surprises the woman with a kiss, she gives it some consideration, and then she enthusiastically returns the kiss, it’s something of a cliche in movies, but Shirley Henderson here makes it utterly believable. It’s really intense.
And she’s really intense. She’s a little firecracker. Reminds me of my Dawn.
And then her best scene comes later in the story, when Felix’s sister Hetta has come to relay Felix’s reply to Marie’s message to him, after their plans to elope have all gone awry. And Felix, great big asshole that he is, has sent Hetta to throw Marie under a bus, tell her that he doesn’t love her and never has. (Not literally under a bus.) And Shirley Henderson has this awesome scene where she’s devastated and heartbroken and she’s weeping and lost and declares that she’ll never love again, that she’ll follow her father’s wishes and marry Lord Nidderdale but will be a curse to his entire life. Again, really intense and achingly wonderful.
Apparently Shirley Henderson was in both Bridget Jones movies, although I only saw the first one. Dawn remembers her, or the character anyway. She was also in Trainspotting — she’s originally from Scotland — and I do remember her in that, although Kelly Macdonald was of course the more noticed babe in that. Shirley Henderson played Spud’s girlfriend Gail. “Actually it’s a nightmare. I’ve been desperate for a shag but watching him suffer was just too much fun,” you might remember her saying. For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, you’ll have seen her as someone called Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But of course everybody’s in the Harry Potter movies. I haven’t seen them, but Shirley Henderson is a reason to see at least one of them.