April 22, 2009

Ten Talented Temptresses

8. Tilda Swinton
If David Bowie is the master of glam rock androgyny then surely Tilda Swinton is androgyny's new modern mistress. She's not sizzlingly sexy but she is definitely sexually charged. Her beauty is hardly traditional but it is staggering. The role that most clearly defines her magnetism is Jadis, the White Witch, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where she rules both Narnia and the film with the coldest blue gaze ever committed to celluloid and all the warm allure of a living icicle. She's likewise the most mesmerizing part of Constantine as the androgynous angel Gabriel and single-handedly steals the entirety of the freakishly fabulous Orlando in which her character spontaneously, and without explanation, changes from male to female overnight. She is a predator of an actress, eating up words and scenes with an almost bored air but never chewing scenery and never going the predictable route. The end scene in Michael Clayton between her and George Clooney is to die for. It's not only her strange beauty that defies explanation because her personal life is equally as fascinating: she has twin daughters with the husband she lives with but, with his blessing, travels with her lover. And she once created a performance/installation art piece for London's Serpentine Gallery where she was featured on display in a glass case for a week, seemingly asleep. She is truly beyond description, is true to her own vision, and is all the more intensely appealing for it.

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