Starring Staring

Noémie Merlant is becoming cinema’s foremost starer.

Her characters spend much of both The Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Tár wordlessly staring at her moving surroundings.

Which is an observation with the concision of a tweet…until I started thinking about how much of screen acting boils down to staring, reacting to what you’re staring at, and then letting that reaction change how you stare; what to look like while looking, if you will.

All through nothing but — at least in Merlant’s case — a subtly mutable visage. 

And this staring reflects the relationship between audience and art: we stare, we react to what we’re staring at, and then our reactions change the nature of our staring.

Never forget how much of art — and life? — stars staring. 

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