If you had a wordle for Jodie Foster’s speech, some of the key words would include: confessional, stories, ledge, intimate, acting, joy, mother, prom queen, thanks, love, Charlie and Kit (her sons), Cydney Bernard (her ex-partner), private, public, soul, honest, real, nervous…
She may not be the girl next door (that’s Julia Roberts), but she’s the girl you’d like to have next door – smart, funny, tough. A Yale grad, fluent in French, you really would like to see her at Trader Vic’s where her sparkly gown would give way to jeans and a T-shirt.
She’s been under the microscope since “Taxi Driver.” And there’s at least one of her movies you’d rush out to see again and again. For me that film is “The Brave One,” Jodie at her kick-ass best. Others might pick Clarice in the “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Once in a very long while a great speech comes to town—or, to your television set. I think of Dr. King’s “I have a dream,” and in an entirely different mood, George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words.” I think of my first hearing Pierre Trudeau at a 1967 youth rally in Oshawa where he seemed shorter than I imagined, shyer and more hesitant. I think of Tommy Douglas who somehow combined great passion with great humour. What was he like? Imagine Robbie Burns telling stories in a bar and St. Francis blessing his flock at the same time.
What was Jodie like? Vulnerable, flirtatious, elusive, brave, open, playful, daring, funny, grateful. The words that hit me hardest where those directed to her dementia-fogged mother, “Mom, I know you’re inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there are so many things that you won’t understand tonight. But this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you.”
She teases the audience about coming out –something she had done years ago to the people who mattered to her—but what she really wanted to announce was that she was 50 and single. She was going to bring her walker, “but it just didn’t go with the cleavage.”
She thanks Robert Downey for his “bat-crazed, rapid-fire brain” and Downey’s wife Susan for talking her down from the ledge where she’d shout, “I’m done with acting, I’m done with acting, I’m really down, I’m done, I’m done.”
She apologizes for not being Honey Boo Boo Child, for not letting everything out the way Reality Shows do. “Please don’t cry because my reality show would be so boring. I would have to make out with Marion Cotillard or I’d have to spank Daniel Craig’s bottom just to stay on the air.”
For a moment, you think she’s announcing her retirement or a career-ending illness. She hushes to her children that she gets a little “moony” sometimes. She’s channelling Sam Cooke: change is going to come. “This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else.” And then, for me, the most heart-piercing note of the night, “…I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won’t be as sparkly, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle.”
I love the dog reference.
In gorgeous human complexity worthy of Hamlet, full of paradox and ambiguity—is she saying hello or goodbye?—she declaims, “I may not be up on this stage again, on any stage for that matter.” Then a breath: “Change, you gotta love it.” Then another breath, “I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved…”