There are times when watching an actor or actress onscreen is absolutely painful, and not because their performance is bad. Sometimes it's just obvious that they're drawing on their personal lives to bring that character to life, and in this tabloid day and age, it's often too easy to know exactly what's making them go all Method on us.

Take Robin Wright Penn. In State of Play, she plays Anne Collins, wife of Ben Affleck's suave senator. Their marriage is falling apart in full view of the public and the paparazzi, and Mrs. Collins obligingly plays the loyal stoic during press conferences. It's impossible not to see art imitating life a little bit, and it's especially difficult given that Penn seems to throb with emotional turmoil in every scene. It's an incredible thing to watch and wonder about, though I'm not sure it's for the right reasons.

Did Penn take the role as a bit of therapy for herself, or because it was easy to identify with Collins? Is she even acting at all? If she isn't, is it brilliance to employ your own anguish to the benefit of a character, or is that cheating? I honestly can't decide, and I don't even know if I'm somehow being unfair to the performance simply because I do know of the back-and-forth divorce proceedings of the Penns. All I know is that it's incredibly difficult to watch, and that whenever she comes onscreen I want her to leave because she makes me uncomfortable with her visible grief.

categories Movies, Cinematical