FILM / On Cinema

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Indy Lifestyle Online
There are many of us who'd gladly watch Debra Winger in anything. Of late we've had to. Sitting through Leap of Faith was an act of faith in a performer who once seemed like becoming the Bette Davis of her generation, such was her passion, bluntness and the distinctive purr of her voice; here was a woman who could steal the show from Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment and barely break into a sweat.

Still, one could see why Winger had decided to play safe in a Steve Martin vehicle: the passion that informs her public persona comes directly from private life and has been responsible for both shooing away producers and attracting wilfully wrong projects (see The Sheltering Sky). After Sky she needed a hit. Leap of Faith wasn't it. You could sense her discomfort. Even in her worst dud - did anyone watch Everyone Wins? - Winger shows more invention.

Now she's back on form in the otherwise negligible A Dangerous Woman, which has the feel of a comeback, even though Winger really hasn't been away. Playing a woman who (self-) destructively can't help telling the truth and nothing but the truth, Winger's Oscar-nominated turn has a confessional power: public and private selves at last merge into a coherent whole. Yet the picture has flopped, the public preferring to watch her die of cancer all over again in the beautifully made but utterly ordinary Shadowlands. An honest turkey and a sentimental hit, a creative challenge and a sound commerical choice: tell me, at 38, where does someone as daring as Debra Winger go from here?

(Photograph omitted)