iPlayer Radio What's New?

How many actors does it take to make a great movie?

Friday 7 May 2010, 12:33

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Tagged with:

Is it true that all you need for cinematic success is a big two-hander (insert your own "Kermode mitts" gag here), or even a three-hander, or does that only work if you have the likes of Gemma Arterton and the wonderful Eddie Marsan, as in The Disappearance of Alice Creed?

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash Installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    Haven't caught the Disappearance of Alice Creed yet but,

    I would like to add Hard Candy. Aside from 2 or 3 very small parts the entire film is excellently carried by Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page. Not only that, but they spend almost the entirety of the film in facial close ups. An accomplishment to say the least.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    The Australian film The Interview (1998) is a wonderful two or three-hander with Hugo Weaving and Tony Martin. A Kafkaesque psychological drama set almost entirely in a police interrogation room, it manages to weave tension all the way through to the end.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    I would argue that Rear Window (the Hitchcock version) is basically a two and a couple of bits hander.

    Failing that, the original Planet of the Apes after the first firteen minutes has only got one human speaking part, the rest are monkeys!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    A brilliant recent example is Antichrist - which focuses on Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg for the entire movie, there's barely a frame without one of them in it and their performances are amazing.
    One of my favorite examples is Sleuth, the original 1972 thriller with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier. It was just over two hours of them talking, with no other characters. I was completely gripped for that whole time. A sublime piece of work.
    When Harry Met Sally does have two strong supporting actors but I think we can all agree that the success of that movie lies in the chemistry between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, who totally carry the movie.
    Bruce Campbell provides a one man show for pretty much the entire running time of Evil Dead II and that's an absolutely magnificent film.
    Could we also make a case for Mike Leigh's Naked? Again, there are some strong supporting characters but that film completely RELIES on David Thewlis rampaging through pages of dialogue at the expense of our senses. It's a magnificent performance, without him its power would be lost.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    God! And how could I forget two of my all time favorite movies - Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Two funny, intelligent, deeply moving films with pitch-perfect performances.
    Nope. The size of a cast doesn't matter. Two people can make a movie.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    In The Company Of Men - another brilliant three hander. Deliciously dark comedy, perfectly played.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    From what I can remember for the most part, aside from a couple of scenes, the film 'Primer' only has three actors performing its fiendishly complex physics based plot.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    i agree with #4s contribution of antichrist. another one that possibly doesn't count is I Am legend (or is that the omega man?)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    *Spanking the Chiba

    One more Linklater film - 'Tape'.

    ****

    Before Sunset is one of my favourite films of all time, one of the most perfect love stories to be captured on film. It's two person cast is never acknowledged due to the strength of the film.

    ****
    Films which have 'literal' 2/3 handed casts include 'In The Mood For Love', with possibly the world's finest actor Tony Leung and also 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane', one of the most disturbing films put to screen. Sunset Boulevard for it's best duration is a 3 hander, and if there's one guy who knew what he was doing behind the camera it was Billy Wilder.

    The number of actors in front of the camera will never be as important as the screenplay and the director, as they are the most important factors in determining the quality of the film.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    RE Primer

    What a great and confusing film? I'm probably not alone in thinking it's one of the finest science fiction films ever made. I really wish it came with a guide to work out what the hell is going on though!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    Before sunrise
    Before sunset
    Tape
    American buffalo
    and most of all: Glengarry Glen Ross!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    @ S Ford

    If you go on Primer's forum on the imdb site someone has done an explanation of it all - trouble is the explanation is just as mind bending as the film!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Some good shout outs for Primer and Hard Candy.

    Ummm I think mine would be Following which was Chris Nolan's first film and maybe Pi by Darren Aronofsky.
    Also Steven Spielberg's Duel comes into my head.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    @ S Ford

    Thanks for the 'Tape' addition!
    I agree on Before Sunset as well, perfect sequel with a perfect ending. The performances in those films are so underrated.

    Great shout for 'In The Mood For Love' too, that's a great film!
    Also, two more contributions from me:

    Chris Nolan's debut feature Following is primarily a two-hander if I remember rightly.
    Also, F.W. Murnau's Der letzte Mann has just one character played superbly by Emil Jannings - there are plenty of people that float around him, but none are actual characters with stories and arcs. It's all about him.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    The triumvirate of Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz in Cronenberg's remake of The Fly impressed.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.


    Samuel L. Jackson in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones - every other character was either a puppet or a digital animation right?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.


    Seriously though Keane with Damian Lewis was a brilliant single hander

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    One film that comes to mind with only a few key actors is the 2003 thriller "Open Water". A large majority of the film plays out between a couple who are left stranded in the middle of the ocean. Although the film is quite poorly directed and the camerawork is mediocre at best, the interaction between the two lead actors was very believable and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    The first thing that came into my mind when watching this video was the little seen and critically dismissed Interview, directed and starring Steve Buscemi along side Sienna Miller. Not only does the film only have just the two principle actors but it is also almost entirely set in one location (with the exception of the restaurant scene at the beginning).

    Why most critics panned the film I really don't know. I thought it was a great little drama with interesting and fully fleshed characters playing a enticing game of cat and mouse with each others careers, personalities and egos. It also ends with a great twist.

    Anyone else seen it?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    Sleuth. Olivier and Caine. Marvellous.

 

Page 1 of 5

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
5 live review: Nightmare on Elm Street

Friday 7 May 2010, 10:51

Next
Returning Themes

Monday 10 May 2010, 12:28

About this Blog

Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

This twice-weekly video blog is the place where he airs his personal views on the things that most fire him up about cinema - and invites you to give your own opinions.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?