Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Naked Truth - Emily Blunt

[The Naked Truth is a feature celebrating the lives and careers of the most talented women that pop culture has to offer. The fact they're also all incredibly gorgeous is just a great excuse to post as many stunning images of them as possible. You can see more of this sort of thing at Flixist's Some Like It Hot feature.]

There's no justice in the world. That much is official now. Otherwise, how else would John Krasinski, of It's Complicated and License To Wed fame, be married to the charming, funny, all-acting, all-singing Brit babe-stravaganza Emily Blunt? I mean, I'm sure he's a lovely chap. But License To Wed? Where's karma when you need it?

I can't deny there's sour grapes on my part. (What, you noticed?). Blunt seems dangerously close to being the perfect woman: in addition to her jaw-dropping looks, she's one of the most versatile and nuanced actresses working today, never failing to be the best thing in any of her films. So you win this round, Krasinski, but read on after the jump anyway for a look back her already distinguished career, the many reasons for her enormous appeal, and perhaps fantasizes about what might have been if Mrs. Blunt (goddamn it, I'm not saying Mrs. Krasinski) had instead taken a shine to, oh I don't know, a certain English internet film reviewer/features writer, perhaps? She's elegant, exciting and exceedingly English. Emily Blunt, welcome to your Naked Truth...

Anyone who has seen My Summer of Love will know exactly why it propelled Emily Blunt to stardom, and not only for cinema's most lascivious misuse of a tennis court. (Insert "No balls, please!" Wimbledon gag). The fact she played a manipulative upper-class girl coercing a new friend into topless lesbian experimentation is reason alone to barrel down to your local video rental as fast as your legs can carry you, but it was the subtlety in her performance, hiding her character Tamsin's splintered soul behind a veneer of aloof seductiveness and world-weariness, that really captured people's attention, even outshining distinguished co-star Paddy Considine.

Her next notable appearance was in TV film Gideon's Daughter, directed by the great Stephen Poliakoff, in which she played a political publicist's daughter driven to despair by their inability to find an emotional connection. On the surface, her roles in Gideon's and Summer seem quite similar, variants of the neglected rich girl trope. Yet while Blunt played both with a similar sense of detachment, where in Summer her character Tamsin has been poisoned by her challenging experiences and only relates to others through making them complicit in her pain, Blunt finds in Natasha (her Gideon's character) a young girl fighting to stay afloat in an adult world, desperate to live up to everyone's expectations of her but quietly breaking down through her inability to find the love she needs from her father (Bill Nighy).
In the film's standout scene, Blunt reveals her singing talent in a rendition of Papa (a song written for the film by Poliakoff and Adrian Johnston) that is at once hauntingly beautiful and utterly heartbreaking.
Hollywood quickly came calling and in her first American excursion, she blew Meryl Streep off the screen in The Devil Wears Prada as flame-haired office bitch Emily. Even as Streep's portrayal of Miranda Priestley was being critically lauded, Blunt was the film's breakout star. Once again, her talent for portraying characters hiding deep insecurity and self-doubt beneath a seemingly confident and forceful exterior was holding her in good stead. The black widow dress sense and smouldering stare didn't hurt either. She and co-star Anne Hathaway became close friends over their shared experiences of starvation to prepare for their roles.

Blunt next appeared in a string of indie comedies (plus a sexy cameo in Tom Hanks vehicle Charlie Wilson's War) that tapped into her mix of natural grace and easy-going charm, none moreso than Christine Jeff's Sunshine Cleaning, where she shared great chemistry with co-star Amy Adams, bouncing her character Norah's aimless exuberance against her uptight sister Rose (Adams). Though reviews for the film were mixed, the two actresses (who became close friends on set) were pinpointed by critics as the reason for much of what worked.

Blunt's next project was The Young Victoria, a dramatisation of Queen Victoria's ascent to the throne and romance with Albert. Despite its slightly suspect grasp of certain historical events, the role of Victoria was perfect for Blunt, fitting into her specialty of playing conflicted women while putting her sophistication and eloquence to the fore. Although the film was nominated for three Oscars (winning Costume Design), Blunt's monumental performance disgracefully only received recognition through a Golden Globe nomination for Dramatic Actress, which she lost to Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side.

Fortunately, she made herself and her fans feel better in all sorts of ways by doing photoshoots like this one for GQ in 2008...
...and Elle magazine's September 2010 issue.

Even though Emily had a pretty awful 2010, with the likes of Wild Target (a horrific ordeal of a movie despite her seductive performance), troubled Benicio Del Toro vehicle The Wolfman and Jack Black's dreadful Gulliver's Travels staining her CV, she got back on track with a number of solid releases in 2011, including a cameo in The Muppets and headline roles alongside Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau and Ewan McGregor in rom-com Salmon Fishing In The Yemen.

You can see more of Emily in her new movie, The Five Year Engagement, which opened last week in the US and where she tantalisingly stars alongside Alison Brie, or later this year in Rian Johnson's time-travel actioner, Looper, in which she wears a vest and wields a shotgun.

So if you like women who are insanely talented in many fields but completely unpretentious, beautiful in appearance and manner, able to mix sophistication with a glint of mischief, then Emily Blunt is the woman for you. With super-stardom surely guaranteed after a number of sensational performances spanning all known genres, I get the feeling that we could be seeing a lot more of her over years to come - and that's a very good feeling indeed.


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