Earlier today some Facebook guy asked for examples of scenes with great nønverbal acting. The vast majority of respondents will point to scenes in which the protagonist is conveying strong levels of anxiety, stress or barely suppressed panic. Prime example: Al Pacino in the seconds before he whips out the gun and shoots Al Lettieri and Sterling Hayden in The Godfather. But of course, the increasingly louder sound of a subway train rolling underneath is a key ingredient.
I tend to prefer subtler examples.
Mark Harris‘s favorite is Lily Tomlin‘s simmering reaction to Keith Carradine‘s singing of “I’m Easy” in Nashville. I agree as far as Tomlin is concerned, but the scene falls apart because Carradine won’t stop pathologically staring at her. No cafe performer would ever do that as it makes him look obsessed if not insane. Women in the cafe are noticing his staring and looking around to see who the object might be…Jesus.
One of my nonverbal favorites is James Gandolfini collapsing inside at the end of the legendary “Long Term Parking” episode in season #5 of The Sopranos (i.e., the one in which Adriana gets whacked). That’s me — that’s how I feel 80% of the time when I let the combination of the pandemic and the Khmer Rouge get to me. And that’s how I always respond if anyone asks if I’m good.