The Surprising Faces of Uma Thurman
I was in the mood for something corny and nostalgic this weekend so I watched 1997’s Batman and Robin you know with Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and the introduction of Batgirl. Seeing this movie again strongly reminded me that my childhood rocked! However it also surprised me because I’d totally forgotten that Uma Thurman had played Poison Ivy! Do you remember that? Watching the film and really giving it much thought, I’ve decided that she’s one of those actors you know really well, but are super surprised when you see her in a movie. Kinda like that really cool kid who everyone knows and thinks is awesome, but for some reason you never see him at any parties and then one day you see him at a party and it’s like some sort of epic phenomenon! I’m exaggerating, I know and I do it a lot, so whatever but can you think of three Uma Thurman movies that are not the Kill Bill series and is not Pulp Fiction? She just has one of those faces so I’m sure if you’ve seen any of her movies recently you can pinpoint her with great accuracy. This week on Purple Films we’re going to go over a few surprising roles of Uma Thurman, starting with my corny nostalgia!
Batman & Robin
Here we have Uma playing Dr. Pamela Isley a botanist who is trying to save the rain forest from man kinds destruction which she finds is funded by Wayne Industries. After a murder attempt leaves her crushed her under shelves filled of poisonous plant samples, venomous snakes and what have you the outcome creates the birth of Poison Ivy or as she so comments ‘Mother Nature herself’! With the ability to control the plant’s and packing lethal poisonous kisses she storms into Gotham to go have Wayne Industries stopped, team up with Mr. Freeze and go head to head with Batman himself! The Batman movie series from the late eighties and early 90’s were more cartoony than the Batman series we have today. Seductive and deadly Uma Thurman practically melted into this role. Since this was before Batman became serious it was easy to be loose and carefree with the villains of Gotham and so far this looks like the most fun I’ve seen Thurman have on-screen! Released in the summer of 1997 Thurman made sure to let us all know that it wasn’t only Catwoman, who knew how to make femme fatal look good.
Nymphomaniac Vol I and II
Now if you’re a fan of 50 Shades of Gray you my like the film Nymphomaniac…actually I take that back this film here was just plain depressing. Granted sexy, but still sad. This movie tells the tale of a young woman named Joe, who after being saved by a stranger who found her bloody and beat up in the alleyway decides to tell him her life story as a nymphomaniac which leads to how she came to be in that alley. Remember that cool kid at the party analogy I gave earlier? Well Uma makes her quick ‘hi and bye’ show to this party as Mrs. H. In this fragment of a memory that is told by Joe Mrs. H is the woman whose husband she stole. It’s so painfully uncomfortable to watch Uma’s role as a grieving heartbroken woman whose family has just broken apart. She parade’s her children around Joe’s apartment telling her son’s ‘Let’s take a look at the whores house!’ Then invites herself for tea telling Joe, ‘You might as well know how my husband likes his tea made.’ Uma makes the scene one to remember as a woman gone mad and when she finally take’s her exit with her crying son’s in tow it leaves that particular chapter of Joe’s life very haunted. She only has this one scene in the movie, but it’s a very good one. And you’ll remember well because it’s also one of the few scenes where everyone kept their clothes on!
This one I’m very happy with! Beautiful Girls tells the story of a piano player Willie Conway, who decides to take a bus from New York back to his home in Massachusetts just in time to catch his high school reunion. Meeting up with his old school buddies he finds everyone caught up in the entanglement of relationships, heart breaks, young love and the ever doubtful question of is this the one? Uma Thurman plays Andera a beautiful and somewhat wise woman who flew in from Chicago to see her Uncle. Willie along with his friends are relentless in trying to get to know the new girl and Andera is very admirable in shaking off their advances with ease. But she also shines through in this role with heartfelt expressions of her view on relationships, telling Willie how the best part of love are those lazy Sunday’s reading the newspaper with that special someone. Uma is so fantastic in this movie that I’m almost upset that she was limited to just a few scenes, yet at the same time I’m contempt with the screen time she had because it made her moment’s as the mysterious beauty really shine through. Released in the early spring of 96 we catch another brief snippet of Uma’s talents in a classic I urge you see!
In the bleak romantic story Vatel, Uma makes another dazzling appearance as the King’s Mistress , Anne De Montausier. Taking place in 1671 a broke Prince invites King Louis XIV to his palace for three days of festivities. The nightly parties are to impress the King so that the Prince may be employed as general in an upcoming War. Prince De Conde entrusts his most skilled steward Vatel as head of the festivities decorations, food preparations and entertainment. While Vatel tries to create the most impressive three-day party he finds himself forbiddingly drawn to Anne De Montausier. Forced in a love triangle Uma’s character is dark and mostly sad throughout most of the movie. Again Uma is unfortunately displayed in the background with bouts of scorn towards the King and his right hand man to provide to her character. Her best moments come to light when she shares the screen with Gerard Depardieu as Vatel whom she sees as the only form of happiness within her trapped life. Released in the spring of 2000 Uma gives Vatel a daring edge as you sit and watch and hope that her and Vatel escape the binding laws of 16th century courtship.
With the 2003 winter release of Paycheck we find Uma Thurman in a high-chase thriller that shows just what happens when looking into the future goes wrong! Michael Jennings plays an engineer who does high end jobs for big wig companies. Each and every company has him doing highly classified jobs, so classified that after each assignment his memory needs to be erased! He usually only takes jobs that will last 2 months meaning 2 months of memory he’ll have to give up eventually, however, when a million dollar company offers him an eight figure paycheck for 3 years of work that’s just an offer he can’t refuse. But when his contract is up and his memory is wiped he finds his hired company trying to kill him! He has to try to remember the past three years to find out just what it was he did for the company and why they want him dead. Uma plays Dr. Rachel Porter a botanist (once again) portrayed as Michael’s love interest in the film. I have to say as a botanist and an engineer Rachel and Michael amazingly kicked all sorts of butt! Nice to see an action thriller where the leading female is not always the lady in distress, Uma did great holding her own against the lead male. There were some corny scenes that Uma pays tribute to but hey, that’s on the scripts end. Her real achievement is the emotion she gives when she confronts Michael for erasing his three years of memory and in doing so erasing her from his life. Another great performance that gave us a fun smash of action to boot!
Well there you have it! My initial start of looking for something corny and nostalgic leads me to four other Uma Thurman movies which at this point and time can all be found on the ever wonderful Netflix. She still carries that cool kid who doesn’t go to the parties persona in her acting career which is why I look forward to her next show up in the upcoming release of Burnt staring Bradley Cooper also theirs talk of a Kill Bill Vol 3! Whhaaaa!?? Finger’s crossed??? Is this a good thing? Know another surprising face of Uma Thurman? Please do tell!