I admit it. I am a Terrence Malick nerd. I spent large portions of this past staycation watching his whole ouevre, which, I admit is not the hardest feat to accomplish, what with a whole of five movies, but I did watch the extended version of the movies. Then, after I watched them again, I scoured the Internet for scraps of insight into the mystery of Terrence Malick: a reclusive director, who began a doctorate in philosophy, studied with Stanley Cavell at Harvard, translated Hegel, and made perhaps one of the most gorgeous movies of all time (I will fight you tooth and nail on the merits of The Tree of Life). However, after my long Internet journey, I ended up learning nothing about him, or his methods, or his themes, besides for scattered articles here and there. I did learn that it never pays to try to put together pieces of news or to try to guess at the plot of an upcoming movie, or really any details about any of his upcoming works. Doing so is tantamount to either putting together the past of a person based on the names and descriptions on a tombstone, or similar to figuring out when the actual rapture will happen.
However, when I read that Malick booked Natalie Portman for two of his new movies I geeked out. Malick has three movies (perhaps four, you never really know) in the works, all with all-star casts, one unnamed, a romantic epic starring Ben Affleck And Rachel McAdams, followed by Lawless and Knight of Cups, both with Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett, and now both with Portman as well. Portman, though perhaps just another drop in the sea of stars for a sprawling Malick film, piques my interest because of the general role of women in Malick’s movies. Though women play a main role in almost all of his films (The Thin Red Line serving as the only exception in which women play no role except for a few natives.) they usually all serve the same purpose, variations on the same character: ethereal, spiritual, head in the clouds, representative of grace, religion, naivete, but mostly, innocence, overall a love object to the contrasting hardened, aggressive, violent, more earthly man. For that reason, I like to start to think of Portman in that role, as the embodiment of grace. I think she could fit this part perfectly, her classical beauty, her gentleness, her physical tininess, her profound ability to convey a range of emotions through facial movements, but, knowing that Cate Blanchett will star in both of these movies as well makes me think that Blanchett might be better fitted for this St. like figure, but who knows.
Before we get carried away in surmising the role of Portman in these movies, we should remember that until the actual date of release we can never actually who will play a lead or not, (Adrien Brody, famously, was edited out of a lead role in The Thin Red Line), or who will even make it into the final cut of the movie. So we here at Jewcy, the day after Tu B’Shvat, are praying that Portman makes the final cut.