Dazed

Yeah, ’twas another one of those weeks here.

It’s a bit of a dirty secret that I have not consumed every single thing that Mr. Armitage has done, yet.  I haven’t listened to “Convenient Marriage” at all; I haven’t gotten past Disc 4 of LOTN; and there are bits and pieces of other things I haven’t watched: the last two episodes of The Golden Hour, the end of Ultimate Force, many of the documentary narrations. This usually happens because I get so interested in something that I want to listen to it or watch it again before moving onward. And lately Lucas North’s been monopolizing my time. Actually, I think this is now an advantage, as there’ll still be stuff for me to do and new stuff to experience and crow in delight over during the “drought.”

Last night I was wasted after work, and “Miss Marple: Ordeal by Innocence” had finally made it to the top of my Netflix queue, and I thought I needed to give Lucas some time off, so I put it in the DVD player. I was so wasted that I only was even able to watch the first part of it — I shut it off and fell into bed (and then got woken up by three separate phone calls — another long story — damn that cell phone. I was so much happier without). So yeah, I don’t know how it ends yet, so don’t spoil it for me. But.

I was in that weird place where details were transfixing me. Yeah, I know, that’s a general Servetus MO, caught up in the detail, but I ended up paused for quite awhile looking at the whites of Mr Armitage’s eyes in this scene:

Philip Durrant (Richard Armitage) looks up at his wife after insinuating that she’s murdered her mother in Miss Marple: Ordeal by Innocence. Source: Richard Armitage Net

The Richard Armitage Net capper didn’t pick the climax of this mood, probably because as a still it looks a little bit ridiculous, but there’s a flash where Armitage has his eyes wide open, his pupils extended up to the very limit, and his eyebrows raised that particularly intrigues me:

Same scene, a split-second later. My cap.

There’s a sort of calculating quality to the whole performance — Durrant is trying to provoke his wife, and Armitage pushes his features into overdrive for just a second before he backs off of the whole thing. It’s a general feature of his facial expression that’s highlighted here — that ability to get just that extra little bit, just for a split second, and then pull back, signaling that the character has more inside him than Armitage is explicitly saying.

That was actually the substance of what I was going to say in this post — I’ve noted in other places how his ability to get his eyes that far open enhances the drama of his acting — but while I was looking for this cap, I found myself flipping through the other caps for this scene and now I’m fixated on this moment:

Philip Durrant (Richard Armitage) warns his wife to get her story straight in Miss Marple: Ordeal By Innocence. Source: Richard Armitage Net

Now it’s the lips that have claimed me — usually I like a man with fuller lips than Mr. Armitage, but here they are perfect, and employed so, so well. He’s got that sensual sneer down to a science, and the slight curl at the sides of his mouth augments the feeling of disdain. The eyes are now half open, creating a reptilian aura, and placed in a sidelong, calculating glance. And the dampness from the rain adds that barely perceptible sheen of sex.

It’s less that a minute, but there are so many things to notice and to shiver / shudder over:

In particular, right now, I’m noticing how delightful I find the detail of Mary shaking out Philip’s pajamas, and what it implies. There’s his sudden grasp of her hand, the way he fingers her wrist as if he’s playing the fingerboard of a violin, a beautiful smirk in here, the delicious way Armitage pronounces the word “murder,” his precise undoing of the tie … and it’s interesting to me, the tension in the scene between Philip’s powerful speech, emotion, sensuality, and the fact that he’s imprisoned in a wheelchair. Caged animal, indeed.

Yum. Yum. Yum. I have an engagement tonight so I can’t imagine I’ll be able to watch the rest, just yet, but this scene made all the travails of yesterday worth it. Perhaps Miss Marple is an obligatory line on the CV of the UK tv actor, but Mr. Armitage makes this all so deliciously bad.

~ by Servetus on April 8, 2011.

12 Responses to “Dazed”

  1. Kindly do not forsake the servetus MO. The devil may be in the details. But who doesn’t like a bit of deviltry in life?

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  2. Oh yeah, that reminds me. Maybe it’s a good idea to watch the rest of Ultimate Force and The Impressionists. *cough*

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

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    • the end of UF is upsetting, I’ve heard! I think it’s worth it to see the end of The Impressionists, though.

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  3. I haven’t watched this very often I admit. ( I won’t say how many times I’ve listened to LOTN and the GH audio books * giggle * ).

    One of the biggest fascinations for me about Mr A’s acting are these subtle details; where as you say he’s telling us what’s going on between the lines he’s speaking.

    He uses his whole face, his whole body in fact to convey the character’s thoughts and feelings. Fabulous. I love watching him at work.

    His eyes and mouth are especially eloquent and ohhh yes so incredibly sensual.

    It’s as though he revels in the experience of sharing what the character isn’t saying with us.

    Have a good weekend everyone. Please wish my eldest son luck too.
    This Sunday he does his first St George’s Day parade with the scouts.

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    • Amanda, you’ve described part of what makes us keep coming back for more with this marvellous actor, the subtlety, the sensuality and yet the holding back. There’s a sense that there’s always more that could have been expressed!

      What a lovely weekend for a St George’s Day parade. I’m sure your son will have lots of fun!

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  4. @Servetus “Deliciously bad”! What a perfect description of the man. He does these “bad” parts so, so well!! There is more than a hint of menace in his voice that imparts a little frisson of disquiet to the scene. It makes you wonder just what Philip would have been capable of if not confined to his wheelchair. I’m amazed all over again at Richards acting abilities. You think you have seen all the subtle ways in which he fleshes out a character but like these moments you have captured above in the caps and video I am once again overwhelmed by his talents.

    @Amandajane. I too love watching him at work no matter what part he is playing – good guy or bad. Although his whole body is brought into play in each character it is what he “says” with that body when NOT actually talking that captivates me – mostly with his eyes, mouth and hands. And sensual?? Oh baby!!

    All the best to your son at the parade. I’m sure he will do you proud.

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  5. Oh, I haven’t watched this yet, but it looks as if I will, soon, from what I can glean here. I have noticed that his lips have a very particular way of parting – first, only the centre of his mouth opens, then slowly, oh so slowly his lips part at the corners. It is incredibly sexy and nearly drives me crazy every time I watch it.

    I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the GH audiobooks. I stopped after the first third or so of Sylvester because that’s a genre that simply doesn’t interest me (I am a SB girl 🙂 ). They are sitting on the shelf, but if and when I’ll listen I don’t know.

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  6. Great observations!

    I like to watch the subtle change RA makes in Phillip from the start of the program when he’s not wheelchair bound to later, his facial expression especially, but also the expression of his body changes.

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  7. I watched some of this program on YT yesterday and also the screencaps on both RANet and RACentral of the scene where Philip is “caught” by the housekeeper Kirsten coming out of a room where it appears he has been up to no good with his young sister-in-law Hester. What struck me very forcibly, especially in the close-ups both on the video, and even more noticeably in the screencaps, is how much his pupils are dilated! I have seen comments before where some say he can do that at will and I don’t doubt it. Here it gives a hint to the viewer that he is in a heightened state of awareness perhaps because his encounter with Hester has been a sexual one – or am I reading too much into this??

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    • I really don’t think it’s possible for people to dilate their pupils at will — probably has more to do with the low light in the scene.

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