Monday, February 23, 2009

The Alchemist

Watching the Academy Awards is a tradition for me. Popcorn, comfy pajamas, fire in the fireplace....all the necessary accoutrements for a long and entertaining evening. I usually make an attempt to catch most of the nominated films, but this year I fell woefully behind and shall try to catch up over the next couple of weeks. One I did see, however, and found to be amazing, was Doubt. Engrossing, with blistering authenticity and truth, it contained four peerless performances. Of course, I am unabashedly a fan of Meryl Streep.
I well remember being in Paris in 1981, walking down the street past a newsstand and seeing her on the cover of Time magazine. It was a winsome photograph, but I don’t know why it stands out in my memory. Funny, but I can still see the sunlight that dappled the road that day. I have followed her through the years from a farm in Africa, to a hilly seaside town in Greece, from Auschwitz to Oklahoma, Lyme Regis to Madison County, from a courtroom in Australia to an editor’s desk in New York City. She possesses the ability to create another person so completely one would expect even her fingerprints to have changed in the process. She brings people to life in such a transcendent fashion as to give one a real glimpse into the inner workings of other minds, other souls. In doing so, she enables us to understand our collective humanity just a wee bit better.
How does that happen? I am grateful for the mystery. I don’t want to know the secret to how it’s done. I am just grateful Meryl Streep does it.