I found Jeff Bridges‘ performance as a craggy, booze-sipping writer in The Only Living Boy in New York more than a little irritating. Many of his mannerisms rubbed me the wrong way, but mostly it was Bridges’ seeming inability to speak plainly and without sounding affected that got to me. I began to hate the way he pronounced everything. Most people would say “I live in apartment B” and leave it at that, but Bridges has to say “I live in apartment BeeyeeEEE.”
I could understand Bridges just fine in The Big Lebowski, but over the last few years he seems to have had a rule about only performing while sucking on three or four throat losenges. Does he have a speech impediment? Does he have it written into his contract that he’s allowed to murmur and mutter and schnorr-schnorr his lines at every turn? Did he have to sip from a fucking glass or smoke a cigar in every damn scene of Marc Webb‘s film? And that infuriating beard stubble. And that Orson Welles-size pot belly.
How, by the way, does an alcoholic who has to struggle mightily to pronounce words in a semi-understandable fashion…how does a slurpy, slouching alcoholic manage to bang out a novel in record time? And how is it that Bridges, at age 68 or so, says he only fell in love once in his life? Once? And it was with the girlfriend or wife of a friend at that? He never fell in love once with somebody available?
Bridges worst offense is his pronunciation of Johanna. That’s the name of Kate Beckinsale‘s character who’s having a simultaneous affair with a dad (Pierce Brosnan) and his son (Callum Turner). Everyone knows that Bob Dylan‘s pronunciation in “Visions of Johanna” is the way to go. It’s JoHANahh, with the HAN rhyming with tin CAN or MAN or RAN as in “I ran down the street.” And yet Bridges, blurp-fuck that he is, insists on calling her Joh-HAHNN-aghhhhh with the HAHHN rhyming with Bonn, Germany.
Why didn’t Webb sit Bridges down and explain that he needs to say it the Dylan way? What is Bridges’ primary problem?
If a character has just been elected Senator, he doesn’t tell his friends, “Well, I guess I’ll be moving to WARSHington pretty soon.” If a couple has just ordered a side dish of asparagus at a nice restaurant, the waiter doesn’t serve the order by saying, “All right, here’s your aspurAHHgus” — he says “here’s your asPARagus.” And when a character is talking about a lady named Johanna, he doesn’t fucking say Joh-HAHNN-aghhhh.