Friday, September 26, 2008

Quirky Is Cool

I swear that someday I will write a screenplay, because there are so many unique and offbeat characters who live in my head. I love watching and analyzing people. To be completely honest, I am fascinated, inspired and in deep, meaningful love with some of the strangest characters on film. There is always something about them. I find myself inexplicably drawn to them, preoccupied by how they dress, how they talk and their strange mannerisms. Perhaps most important are their odd quirks, which somehow seem charming and original. Maybe I love these quirky girls because I can identify with them to such a large degree. If you come by this blog regularly, you know that I'm pretty weird, myself. It's quite possible that I find comfort in these characters because they make me feel less...crazy? They also happen to be incredibly endearing to watch.

This is a little tribute to some of my favourite quirky female characters who have appeared on the big screen.

Photo: Oscar Guy

Recently, I mentioned my strong identification with Woody Allen's character, the neurotic Cristina, in his latest film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Woody also happens to be behind one of the originals: Annie Hall. She is verbose and eccentric. With the bright, effortless smile and casual charm of Annie, you could happily be seduced by the dark side and spend some time in her company. Her mis-matched way of dressing was copied by many women during the late ‘70s; however, you do not have to wear a floppy bowler hat to relate to her. We see her at her weakest, her strongest and when she is downright unlikeable. She is a fully dimensional woman, and as all Allen women can, smartly articulates her way through all of this. She's intelligent as hell, her sassy mouth and quick wit leave this in no doubt. She often talks too much, gives too much of herself away with her constant free-association way of communicating but somehow manages to maintain a whimsical mystery about her. As the film is Alvy’s interpretation of the failed romance, Annie is never fully understood. Through his eyes we see her as an unknown secret that will always possess power over him. It is this ambiguity that breathes life into the role and elevates Annie from that of a realistic portrayal to one permeated with love and nostalgia.

Photo: Soledad Madeira on Flickr

Margot Tenenbaum is sullen, a little twisted and totally pouty. She's odd, there's no doubt about that. Her Lacoste tennis dress, vintage slip and dainty barrette are always contrasted by the melancholy of her smoky eye-liner, heavy fur coat and blunt hair cut. She is adopted. After a childhood of feeling unwanted, she ran away to find her original parents and came home two weeks later with half a finger missing. One winter she and her brother Richie (who she is in love with) ran away from home and camped out in the Egyptian wing of the public archives. Most often she is moping in her bathtub, watching television, or ignoring her husband. She is infamously secretive. Margot is not only a playwriting prodigy, but also a book critic; she wrote a negative review of Eli Cash's latest book despite the fact that she and Eli are lovers. The sadness of her unrequited love, I believe, comes across in her style.

"She was known for her extreme secrecy. For example, none of the Tenenbaums knew she was a smoker, which she had been since the age of 12. Nor were they aware of her first marriage and divorce to a recording artist in Jamaica. She kept a private studio in Mockingbird heights under the name 'Helen Scott'. She had not completed a play in seven years."
The Royal Tenenbaums

Photo: Daria Lois

Amélie is another slightly off-kilter character, who I absolutely adore. She's not conventionally beautiful or perfect, but rather a normal person with normal problems. One day she discovers a forgotten box in her bathroom. It contains the childhood mementos of a small boy who lived in her apartment years ago. She vows to find the owner and return the box, and if he reacts positively, she will keep doing things to help people. The man tears over with joy, and a new hero is born. She looks at the people around her and decides that she will be the person to make their lives better. She concocts a plan to set up two lonely people, help an elderly painter who lives in her apartment, and help her father emerge from the cocoon he built around himself after the death of Amelie's mother. Nino collects torn photographs found underneath picture booths and reassembles them. Amélie fancies herself as Zorro (in some amusing black and white sequences), which is a fitting description.

Photo: Mayi_Madditxu on Fotolog

Wednesday Adams takes me right back to my childhood, and tends to cater to that somewhat vaguely goth aesthetic (similarly shared by Emily The Strange who, I do admit, I have a certain lingering fondness for,) As fictional characters, they can carry these strong looks effortlessly, be these funny strange girls on the page and on film with their missing fingers and decapitated dolls. Wednesday's personality is severe, with a deadpan wit and a morbid interest in trying to inflict harm upon her brother.

"I'm a homicidal maniac, they look just like everyone else. "
Wednesday Adams

Photo: juniormassacre on Flickr

Then, there are girls like Clementine Kruczynski, the dysfunctional free spirit from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She's an odd, funny, outgoing and attractive lady. There's her brightly coloured hair that's always changing and that orange hoodie (I searched high and low until I found one like it), not to mention a whole array of weird conglomerations of outfits. She's not particularly nice, but I just can't help but be drawn to her, and the personality that 'promises to take you out of the ordinary'. There is something about her, just like in all of them, in her manner of speaking and thoughts and ideas, that is deeply appealing to me. She definitely has all the drive, curiosity, daring, and energy in this relationship.

"I'm sorry I came off kinda nutso. I'm not, really."
Clementine Kruczynski

Photo: The Bath Tub

I also couldn't even write this entry without a mention of Holly Golightly from Breakfast At Tiffany's. She's the eccentric socialite who is generally considered to be Audrey Hepburn's most memorable and identifiable role. Ms. Golightly, a young carefree girl with dark and bruised past, dreamed and traveled to New York City to escape her sordid life. At the time the narrator meets her, she is eighteen years old, thin, and has unconventionally short, boyish hair. A child bride who escaped her impoverished Texas roots at the age of fourteen, Holly makes a living as a companion to various wealthy and important men, who lavish her with money and expensive presents. With the aid of the narrator, Holly escapes New York after she has been arrested for conspiracy with a Mafia-backed narcotics ring, and begins a new life in South America. She is characterized as a person who is charming and naive yet deliberately flighty, promiscuous, and intensely preoccupied with herself. She is one of my favourite characters of all time, without a doubt.

"You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-You-Are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, 'okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness.' You call yourself a free spirit, a wild thing, and you're terrified somebody's going to stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somaliland. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself." -Breakfast At Tiffany's

The definition of quirky is "strikingly unconventional" and that's what all of these dynamic women have in common. Who the hell wants to be ordinary or conventional, anyway? Being strange is sjust so much more interesting...


Anonymous said...

I've always been in love with Wednesday. From the dolls' heads to her biting wit.

"I'll be the victim."
Wednesday: "All your life."

Kirsten K. said...

great post. holly golightly is without any doubt, one of the most endearing characters of all time. i love all your selections.