In our regular polarising-opinion series, Total Film writer Richard Watson asks, 'Is it just me? ... or does Andie MacDowell deserve more love?'
In 1989, a little indie flick called sex, lies and videotape introduced the world to an exciting new talent; one rough around the edges but brimming with freshness and potential. Steven Soderbergh?
No, that talent was one Rosalie Anderson ‘Andie’ MacDowell. These days, it’s fashionable to knock the South Carolina native as the embodiment of beige blandness.
However, a scan of her resume offers a reminder of why, in her early ’90s heyday, the former model was hot enough to earn a spot on the cover of Rolling Stone, host Saturday Night Live and appear in Robert Altman’s cameo-crammed The Player.
After suffering the ignominy of having Glenn Close dub over her Southern twang in debut Greystoke: Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes (1984), McDowell earned raves as a housewife who buries her sexuality under frumpy floral dresses and a no-nookie marriage to a guy who’s sleeping with her sister.
Mac’s transition from buttoned-up and blushing to confrontational and, er, camera-wielding is beautifully realised, her accent only enhancing the glorious “Fuuuck yeeew!” she delivers to her love-rat spouse and, presumably, the Greystoke producers.
Has MacDowell’s career fulfilled the promise of her breakthrough role? No. But let’s not pretend that, in its early ’90s aftermath, the actress wasn’t a reliably appealing screen presence and leader of the pack chasing an ascendant Julia Roberts.
Never afforded the marquee roles of that other Southern belle, MacDowell nonetheless brought a winning combo of catwalk cheekbones and homely warmth to a golden run of romcoms.
In 1990’s Green Card, she convinced us that, with only the promise of a gorgeous, greenhouse-equipped New York apartment to sweeten the deal, a beautiful horticulturist could fall for potato-faced slob Gérard Depardieu.
And in Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994) she justified Hugh Grant’s stammering shtick. Groundhog Day (1993) may have been precision built for Bill Murray, but, seriously, would anyone have bought the king of deadpan carving up ice sculptures for, say, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio?
More than just airbrushing her easy charms out of Hollywood history, however, Andie’s most ardent haters have tried, despicably, to pin a couple of specific cinematic crimes on her.
Drubbings of 1991’s Hudson Hawk routinely cite MacDowell’s game impersonation of a dolphin as the nadir of the calamitous Bruce Willis vanity project, as if Meryl Streep would have spent three months living in a tank at SeaWorld prepping for a performance that more accurately captured the essence of a chattering marine mammal.
Then, of course, there’s the disdain unleashed upon the actress for uttering those six words –“Is it raining? I hadn’t noticed”– at the waterlogged climax of Four Weddings...
While her line reading may be a tad Wet Wet Wet, the fact that Richard Curtis got away scot free for penning a clunker that not even Glenn Close could have salvaged typifies the unfair treatment that MacDowell continues to receive.
Or is it just me?
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