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imelda Staunton

she's one of my favourite actresses and i'll watch anything she's in. here are three examples of why.

In Kenneth Branagh's film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, she's one of the women getting bathed, powdered and dressed for the imminent arrival of a group of men on horseback. Satisfied with her clothes, she looks down at her cleavage, gives it a quick squeeze to make sure that everything's in place and looks just right, then purses her lips, closes her eyes and shakes her head in silent, awed acknowledgement that what's on display is simply more than any man will be able to resist. 

In an episode of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series on TV - a sleeping life -  she plays a woman with absolutely no experience of the world who falls in love with a man who later turns out to be a woman. When the other woman ridicules her viciously for her mistake, Staunton's character kills her and is, in due course, caught, arrested and locked up. In the final scene, after she's begged with no luck for her story not to be revealed - for the shame it will bring on her - she's locked up in her cell and left alone, sitting on the bed with her feet dangling over the edge. With just her body movements, Staunton shows us all the fear, confusion, shame and dread flooding through this quiet, shy little creature who never really grew up and got lost in a world where her innocence never had a chance to be anything but abused.

Finally, a moment in Vera Drake, Mike Leigh's film about a post-war working class housewife who, in between taking care of her family and helping out her neighbours, performs abortions for young girls in trouble. Upbeat and cheerful, Vera only wants to help and never, ever, accepts money for this work. Then the police arrive, right in the middle of her daughter's engagement party, and the camera fills the screen with her face as she gazes up at the officers standing in the doorway. And you watch as you see her realise that she's been caught, that she's disgraced her family, that all she wanted to do was help, that her neighbours probably won't talk to her again, that all the happiness she's known has probably vanished forever. You watch as her world crumbles around her. And she does it all without a single word. Just her eyes.

© Nick Garlick 2017