Monday, August 28, 2006
Alan Rickman’s je ne sais quoi
It really bugs me when I can’t figure out why a guy is really attractive. This is my problem with Alan Rickman. The man is 60 years old, has an extremely unconventional face, and is hardly known for landing romantic lead roles. Nevertheless, his allure transcends logic and is so potent that I doubt he could play any part without seeming sexy.
Over the past weekend I saw him in “Blow Dry,” a 2001 British comedy about a quirky national British hairdressing competition held in a small town in Yorkshire. Alan plays an aging barber in business with his son, who has turned from his celebrated competitive success of the past due to his wife’s running off with another woman. His son is played by the young and always heart-throbby Josh Hartnett, who is the film’s romantic interest. However, as always, Alan Rickman steals the show.
His portrayal of Phil, the hairdresser, is understated. His bitterness over his failed marriage seethes quietly, and when he decides to intervene against an old rival’s cheating in the competition, he is stealthy and low key. Against the flamboyant backdrop of the other hairdressers (you can imagine), he seems as solid and humble as they come. But when ultimately he brings all the films plot lines to rights by competing in the final round, Phil suddenly unveils a passionate and creative streak buried for years, symbolized by the stylized scissors tattoo he bears on the sole of one foot.
I’m not a big tattoo fan, but I found that revelation an extreme turn-on. It was like a private secret unveiled. Of course a guy like this would only have a tattoo in a spot no one would ever see except on the most rare, significant occasions. (Only a guy like this could endure the pain of a tattoo on the sole of the foot!)
And somehow the tattoo was a metaphor for the charm of Alan Rickman himself. There’s something rare and special about this guy that you can’t put your finger on, but I suspect he knows where and what it is.
That je ne sais quoi succeeds whether he’s the sinister Professor Snape in the “Harry Potter” movies, the downright evil Sheriff of Nottingham, the eccentrically powerful being Metatron in “Dogma,” or the romantic hero Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility.” It even works when he’s Harry in “Love Actually,” a guy who cheats on his wife with a rather sleazy co-worker. Alan is a marvelous actor, and indeed becomes someone new in each of his roles (particularly as the voice of Marvin the depressed robot in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”). Nevertheless, whomever he’s being, that certain something always shines through.
Sometimes I think it’s Alan’s unusually sensuous features, but then I was likewise as drawn to him as Marvin. Perhaps then it’s his unique voice, so refined and so often deliciously haughty. But would I rather look at him or listen to him? Maybe it’s the dry, detached manner that is the one common thread in his performances--that cool and unflappable, slightly disdainful demeanor.
Oh, I give up, I can’t even guess what it is about Alan Rickman that makes me so crazy. But I do know, whatever “it” is, no one else has it.
Any theories out there? I know I’m not the only one nuts about this guy....