"The Nurse in The Hotel"
She walks with small steps in a deliberate manner. Her movement is reminiscent of the submissive stride of a Japanese geisha, or someone with advanced arthritis. However, the steps she takes almost seem to be a part of what keeps her alive.
When she stops, the past, the present and the future seem to stifle her. So, as she says to another character in the film, “I gotta keep busy.”
Jodi Foster’s performance in HOTEL ARTEMIS is the strong center that holds this dystopian crime film together. Her language of physical actions makes us wonder how the nurse came to such a way of living. Deft with a scalpel and possessing a polished medical technique, she is nonetheless awkward and unsure when it comes to simply crossing a room. When she is forced to exit the hotel for the first time in years, her body rebels and the trauma of a lifetime of loss and regret almost render her unable to move.
So, she keeps moving. The final shot of the film has the nurse wandering off into the dark of night to unknown destinations, still with tiny steps, but they are now very deliberate.
Jodi Foster has spent most of her life in front of a camera, having shocked the cinema world with her portrayal of Iris in Martin Scorsese’s landmark TAXI DRIVER at the age of 12, and now at the age of 55 she creates a character who may be close to her in age, but years advanced of her in emotional trauma that points to a life that has rendered the nurse ancient before her time.
Her speaking cadence, voice and mannerisms are deeply integrated with the physical movement of the character, and it suggests she created this unique role from the inside out: where and how does the psychological trauma of her past and present manifest itself in the way she moves through the world?
Elaine Scarry’s book THE BODY IN PAIN points out that emotional trauma indeed lives in the physical body. Actors at a high level need to find a way to build bridge from the deep pain inside a character and then find the appropriate process in order to create a language of physical actions that not so much EXPLAINS who they are, but rather makes us ask more QUESTIONS about what has happened to them.