Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Stephen Schiff

“Fortunately, Jill Clayburgh can take care of herself. In It's My Turn, she has developed a new kind of movie character: the female abesent-minded professor. Clayburgh possesses wonderful comic equipment--a nasal, drifting voice; the sort of nose that the British refer to as a "great honker"; sleepy-looking eyes that are always glazing and wandering, that sometimes even look as though they were about to roll off to the sides of her face. And yet, because she keeps her vulnerability right on the surface, she always appears on the verge of surrender (To what? To anything), and so she never loses her sensuality. In It's My Turn, she stretches the tension between silliness and sexiness to its limits: like any good absent-minded professor, she's always dropping things or tripping, or accidentally wrapping herself in errant swatches of clothing. Her gestures are too big and clumsy and when she eats, she hunches over her plate as if she were trying to keep her hollandaise warm; in tense or even seductive moments, she's likely to pop her eyes, make inadvertent clicking noises with her mouth, and break into a goofy grin. And yet she glows. In their way, all her nutty little tics and quirks turn her into the very incarnation of liberation. For here is a woman who needn't be statuesque, elegant, pretty, or even well-mannered to be attractive; she needn't be an ideal. In It's My Turn, Jill Clayburgh seems to have left the pedastal for good.”

Stephen Schiff
Boston Phoenix, October 28, 1990
[left out some on Grod/Clay chemistry]

Andrew Sarris

“…. Clayburgh, Grodin, and Douglas are sensitive, attractive, and very warmly amusing in their roles, and nothing seems forced in the projection of their feelings…. Jill Clayburgh's Kate Gunzinger is undeniably the driving force of the film, but Michael Douglas's Ben Lewin and Charles Grodin's Homer are strikingly original creations in their own right. The three form a genuinely enchanting ensemble such as is seldom seen anymore, and their behavioral byplay expands the screen time emotionally….

“…. One cannot get away from it: Jill Clayburgh is as romantic and heroic in It's My Turn as she was in An Unmarried Woman, and many people, both men and women, seem unwilling to grant to women on the screen the same options for elitist fantasy that are granted to men without a second thought. Not that It's My Turn dishes out any easy answers. The title itself is ironic in that the Clayburgh character has been adjusted to the backlash against feminism. Hence, there are many separate points of view represented, both male and female, and many moods as well. Claudia Weill's generosity toward her characters is electrifying…”

Andrew Sarris
Village Voice, October 22-28, 1980

David Denby

“…. The heroine of It's My Turn… is often fretful, huffy, and put-upon, yet at the same time she's so utterly protected that you want to tear away the nets beneath her to see if she falls…. It's My Turn is about a woman who has everything goin for her yet wants more; in truth, she wants the whole world to operate in her behalf.

“Weill and Bergstein must have feared that audiences would hoot at the brainy, accopmlished Kate, so they try to humanize her by turning her into a lovable klutz who trips every third step and gets her arms tangled in expensive, over-complicated clothes, and Clayburgh acts in a fake, coy, fluttery-adorable style. They nag at her in small ways while coddling her in every way that counts, and their occasional attempts to satirize her are so halfhearted and compromised that we can't be sure what is meant….

“How can we care about Kate? Her terribly pleasant dilemmas--the choice between two good jobs, two good lovers--are the kinds of things friends talk about on the telephone. She wants to eat her cake and have it too. Well, so do most of us, but who wants to see a movie about our greed? It's My Turn is embarassing because its heroine is completely self-centered, and the filmmakers don't seem to know it…. The movie is an example of what people have always disliked about the Jewish American princess--the romance of self-love.”

David Denby
New York, date?

David Ansen

“Jill Clayburgh was "An Unmarried Woman." She was equally unmarried in "Starting Over"…. The problematic unmarriedness of Jill Clayburgh has become a stereotype, a cliché. "It's My Turn" (exciting title!) is ostensibly the product of a new feminist sensibility…. In fact, [screenwriter Eleanor] Bergstein has said, "I have never seen a film which honestly deals with a contemporary woman trying to put her life together. They are usually fantasies."

“In Bergstein's screenplay, Clayburgh plays Kate Gunzinger, a laser-brained professor who teaches post-Einsteinian mathematics at the University of Chicago. Just your typical contemporary woman….

“…. Weill allows the film to stumble into pointless, undelightful little scenes: Clayburgh hurting her finger on a thorny rose, Clayburgh trying to give a haircut to her about-to-be-married father (Steven Hill), whose hair looks perfectly marriageable….

“There are some laughs, especially from Charles Grodin in his patented smooth-schlump role. As for Clayburgh, of course she's adorable with her brainy vulnerability and jittery-thoroughbred grace, but this persona has become as dangerously perfect as Jane Fonda's ruefully earned righteousness….”

David Ansen
Newsweek, November 3, 1980

Stanley Kauffmann

Stanley Kauffmann on Clayburgh in I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can:

“[Jack Hofkiss, the director of I'm Dancing] also pushes our faces into the face of Jill Clayburgh. One of the several reasons this is a mistake is because of her oppressive lisp: she says "f" for "s."….

“To me, Clayburgh is a naturalistic ham. She seems to be constantly summoning up her powers to appear not to be acting, just as ostentatiously as a century ago, a ham actor would have summoned up powers to look theatrical. This reaction of mine is exacerbated by the fact that I find her personality and person unappealing….”

New Republic, March 24, 1982