I recently watched the Fighter. (I know… very late to the party). It was good of course and Christian Bale’s performance came singing through. Totally worthy of his Academy Award.
I also tried to appreciate Melissa Leo’s performance of the mother I really did… but WOW I hated her. The character… not the actress.
I hated the way she treated her sons differently. I hated her selfishness which was evident throughout the film. I get the actress was trying to accomplish this but when I spend time with characters I hate so completely I find it difficult to enjoy any element of the film.
Conversely the sisters, who I’m not sure if we’re meant to hate or not - I loved. They were in the background spouting out a line here or there making me laugh. They were endearing. Even Dickie was endearing. As awful as he was I was always rooting for him. The mother, however, like nails on a chalkboard.
I had the same problem with the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce. The daughter throughout this series is so horrible, so spoiled, so nasty and churlish I eventually had to stop watching. I couldn’t stand it. I needed to transport myself into the television and spank that kid. Again the actress (both child and grown woman) did this with intent, but I found the part too hard to watch and that’s not good.
I know we regurgitate the same information about writing all the time. But part of blogging about it and talking about it is so we can reinforce it. Creating a villain isn’t easy. Drawing someone who is selfish, evil, manipulative whatever… and still making them watchable and compelling is no small feat.
I love to hate the King from True Blood. I love to hate Nicky from Big Love. I love to hate the Queen most recently in Game of Thrones. Loving a nasty character is fun. It’s like taking a walk on the dark side with them for that hour or two.
Hating a character… well to me it means something was left out. The thing that makes the character human enough or vulnerable enough so although we know they are meant to be the villain we can still empathize with them enough to stay in their world for a time.