Penelope Cruz – SBIFF Outstanding Performer of the Year Award

Reviewed by Darryl Walden. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2009.

Dear Penelope:
Regrettably, I had not seen many of your films prior to attending your Chopin Outstanding Performer Tribute at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The two most memorable were Blow and Bandidos.

In Blow, I observed the two faces of Eve that Roger Durling alluded to in his interview with you; the brazen party girl that loved the rush of cocaine and the sex that came with it which gave way to the protective mother who did not want her daughter around a father that would, in all probability, maintain a destructive lifestyle.

Similarly, in Bandidos, you act out passionate audacity toward avenging a father and the preservation of an indigenous people you both sprang from, but know little about love with the opposite sex. Fluctuation in character seems effortless for you as if, perhaps, it is a triumphant reminder of a struggle that refused to let natural beauty reduce you to a life of shallow existence, obstructing the very innocence that grants you the freedom to be as you choose. It is honesty that makes you free and vibrant which leaves little room for pretentiousness. 

Pedro Almodovor understood. A woman that wears the virtue of honesty well. exudes a special charm that can appeal to anyyone.

I left the Tribute determined to see Vicky Christina Barcelona and Elegy, only to discover both screening dates had transpired. I will redeem myself on this soon. Yet, for all the raves you’ve garnished for Vicky Christina Barcelona which may land you an Oscar,  I’m leaning towards viewing Elegy first.  Some critics report that you eclipse Ben Kingsley’s performance. That’s not an easy feat and something tells me that you really did.

Nevertheless, the point of this letter is one I am sure you already know. In my view, your finest performance will emerge from the one that you write or direct, if not both.  I’ll be applauding when you complete this aspect of your talented  self.  Can’t you just see Roger going into an animated analysis on that? 

I am glad I got the chance to see you.


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