Thoughts on Tilda Swinton in Limits of Control

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 2:01 PM By Simon

I am a casual worshipper of Tilda Swinton. I'm not so diehard as other film enthusiasts, but she is a factor I will take into account when I go to see a movie. I appreciate her androgeny, the fact that she is the only actress who could star in Orlando, who could play Gabriel in Constantine, without it being ridiculous. I like her ability to be a cruel, cold shrew and a warm, loving woman and a drug-addicted mess in five different places. I love her posh Britishness.

In Limits of Control, she plays one of the many contacts to the anonymous hitman (Isaach de Bankolé), bearing a trinket of mysterious clues for him at a cafe.
But, she distinguishes herself in both her stride and appearence. Hardly inconspicuous in a cowboy hat, overcoat, and huge sunglasses, she half walks, half scurries down the street, glancing over her shoulder. She introduces herself as everyone else does, "You don't speak Spanish, right?", you know the drill. Then she sits down, and talks about movies.

I like really old films. You can really see what the world looked like; thirty,
fifty, a hundred years ago. You know the clothes, the telephones, the trains,
the way people smoke cigarettes, the little details of life.

The best films are like dreams you're never sure you've really had. I have this image in my head of a room full of sand and a bird flies towards me and dips its wing into the sand. And I honestly have no idea whether this image came from a dream or a film.

Sometimes I like it in films when people just sit there, not saying anything.

Then, the two just sit there, not saying anything. It's the self-referencing here that almost redeems this movie, I guess.

She goes on to say:

Have you seen The Lady From Shanghai? Orson Welles.
That one makes no sense. Rita Hayworth is a blonde, I think it's the only film she was ever blond in. It's like a game: deception, glamor, a shootout with shattered mirrors.
She dies in the end.

Now, in her penultimate speech, she skips to the meta-path. Because, like Hayworth in Shanghai, this is the only movie she's blonde in. This leads me to think of that last line, 'she dies in the end'. Because later, we'll see her, from the POV of the Lone Man, in the same garb as their encounter, on an old-fashioned Spanish film poster, translated to 'In A Lonely Place'. Not a minute later, we see her getting dragged into a car by some men, never to be seen again. With this line, she both foreshadows and confirms her own fate.


Andrew K. said...

Is it weird I always thought Cate would totally rock Orlando...don't kill me for blasphemy!!!

March 23, 2010 at 3:10 PM
Simon said...

Oh, sure, but she got her man-role in I'm Not There.

March 23, 2010 at 3:11 PM
Andrew K. said...

Oh yeah, totally blanked on that. I was actually thinking about how androgynous Queen Elizabeth (as played by Cate) and Galadriel were.

March 23, 2010 at 3:15 PM
Simon said...

A bit, but it was only because of the body armor.

March 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM