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Hal Hartley’s ‘Look-out-Martin-Donovan’s-in-the-house!’ Shot: The Transformative Cult Indie Star-Director Relationship and Performance ‘Idiolect’

  • Steven Rawle

Abstract

In 2002, I had just begun to work on a book about the films of Hal Hartley. During that summer, I went to see Insomnia, Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to Memento (2000). The majority of the hype surrounding the film had promoted the performance of Al Pacino in the lead role, as well as Nolan’s role as the auteur of the film. I was surprised to see Martin Donovan appear as Pacino’s partner in the film. Given that my work at the time focused on Hartley’s work, specifically around ideas relating to performance, Donovan’s appearance took on special significance, more so than the much-vaunted performance of Pacino. For me, Donovan’s star persona had exceeded the boundaries of his role, as often occurs with star performances, where the persona of the star is sometimes uncontainable by the role (indeed, it is often fused with the role). Although I was aware of Donovan’s work in other independent films, such as Michael Almereyda’s Nadja (1994) and Don Roos’ The Opposite of Sex (1998), his persona was utterly fused with Hartley’s work. It’s perhaps surprising to consider that at that point, Donovan and Hartley hadn’t collaborated for four years, and, with the exception of the short hour-long feature The Book of Life (1998), Donovan hadn’t appeared in a lead role in a theatrically released Hartley film since Amateur in 1994.

Keywords

Cult Acting Film Acting Screen Performance Marginal Appeal Film Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Steven Rawle 2013

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  • Steven Rawle

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