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Man, I love me some Ralph Fiennes!...

...This thought flashed into my brain over the holidays, as I watched Skyfall. Even consumed as I was with Daniel Craig, (Bond, James Bond) and the powerful triumvirate of Dame Judi Dench and Javier Bardem, I still couldn't take my eyes off Ralph and the balanced character he created in Gareth Mallory. As the chairman of the Security and Intelligence Committee, the role of Mallory had to be played by someone strong enough to wear the cloak of authority demanded by the character, but savvy enough to not overplay the role as an actor. The actor must play Mallory as a character who is just outside the parameter of Craig, Dench and Bardem without breaching the triangle. Ralph pulls this off flawlessly, making us believe that Mallory was once indeed an IRA prisoner who is now a fantastic security chief (we buy that he can handle a gun in a crisis) and strategist (its his idea of the best way to track the bad guys).

photo by David Appleby, Coutesy of Mongrel Media
Now, at the beginning of 2014, you too, can have the pleasure of seeing Ralph on the big screen in The Invisible Woman when it opens on January 17th. The title is apt, as the film tells the story of Charles Dickens and his mistress, whom he managed to keep in the shadows ("his profound secret") for many years; but in terms of screen appeal, the title sucks. I'm hoping that Ralph's name will get bums in seats even if the title conjures up images of a cult film heroine swathed in bandages.  I was captured by the opening scene of Nelly (Felicity Jones) as she stomps out her demons on the cold, stark beach. I desperately hoped that the rest of the film would not fail me and, happily, I can report that it did not. Ralph is the egotistical, famous author, who wants his own world as well as Nelly, and while men in this time period did not have the most screen friendly fashions, his Dickens has the aphrodisiac of power and the seductiveness of words that will captivate us as he does Nelly. I urge you not to wait for the video as this is a big screen event that demands scenes that are projected several stories high and wide.

I haven't seen every single movie that Ralph has been in (he's been in some wonderful film, as well as some stinkers), but I remember when I finally got a chance to see him in The English Patient--the beauty, the horror! To be loved the way his fictionalized Count Laszlo de Almasay loved Katherine Cliffton (Kristen Scott Thomas) is enviable. It makes me want to swoon. Yep, I said it swoon! Even as I grapple with the morality/immorality of actions taken by his character, Ralph makes me melt with his quiet strength, his mellifluous voice and his incredible glacial-blue eyes!

He also has a great butt. Trust me, he does. Have a gander some time. Have you seen Coriolanus? My other love, Shakespeare teamed with Ralph Fiennes' acting prowess and theatrical training!  What a feast! And what a delectable duo is Fiennes and Butler ("He's mine, or I am his") in this dramatic play adapted, modernized and directed for the screen by himself. Ralph's bad boys are no good, but they fascinate because of what he brings to the role--check out In Bruges (not for the politically correct). And what can we say about Lord Voldemort in 4 of the Harry Potter films? Even scaring children, with a face that's digitally altered, his threatening voice makes me want to join Slytherin House. (Actually I think I'm a Gryffindor/Ravenclaw hybrid).

Sexy, serious Ralph is expected, but I love his playfulness in, wait for it, Maid In Manhattan. I know, I know, it's not a good film, but it's my guilty pleasure! The plot is full of holes, but I can't resist those normally cold eyes glinting with pleasure! He laughs in this one. Please don't hold this against me as you head out the door to watch "The Invisible Woman"Ralph may have done Manhattan as a break from his usual offerings, but The Invisible Woman is his baby (he not only stars, he directs) and as the offspring of a writer and a photographer, you can bank on the fact that Ralph Fiennes knows how to tell an amazing visual story!


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