Thursday, October 11, 2007

Paul Schneider

Two of the best performances I have seen this year were from the same actor, Paul Schneider. In the broody western "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" he played Dick Liddil, the ladies' man of the James Gang. He brought maturity and depth to the seduction of a young wife and the description of his conquests to the other men, both scenes that could easily have been mishandled and become slick or snickery. And in the lovely little indie "Lars and the Real Girl" he plays brother to the title character, who believes that a "fun doll" is his girlfriend. Many actors would not have been able to resist a sit-com vibe in reacting to this gentle delusion, but Schneider again shows a range of often conflicting emotions with great restraint, delicacy, and humanity. I see he is now directing a film based on his own screenplay and that he has assembled an extraordinarily appealing cast, including Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, and SNL's Kristen Wiig. Sounds wonderful.

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