Oscar Blindspots: Lorenzo’s Oil/Love Field

It might be 30 years late, but I’ll be catching up on all the Oscar nominees and winners I have missed from the year 1992 through the month of September

Both Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer can boast a number of excellent performances throughout their careers. While both received Best Actress nominations in 1992, their respective films arrived with varying degrees of success.

Lorenzo’s Oil
Directed by George Miller

Young Lorenzo Odone (Zack O’Malley Greenburg) is diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a fatal neurological disease. Determined to keep their son alive, Augusto (Nick Notle) and Michaela (Sarandon) pester doctors and rail against the systems to keep their son alive. Despite not being doctors or scientists, the pair work tirelessly to find a cure for their son’s disease.

While impactful and harrowing, I wouldn’t classify the film as a fun watch. Watching this child waste away in agony is extremely painful to watch. Miller doesn’t shy away from the problems and reiterates how much hell Lorenzo and his parents are going through. Sarandon plays to her strengths of steadfast earnestness. She is the rock at which you cannot push around and will do anything to help her child. I would have liked a little more depth from her, but she does do a great job of playing exhausted.

Greenburg does a fully physical transformation to embody Lorenzo. It’s a very impressive performance from the child actor. Nolte does commendable work, but his distracting heavy Italian accent never feels right. Large parts of the film really work, while other smaller parts feel heavy handed. It’s a solidly made film that I never want to watch again.

Love Field
Directed by Don Roos

In November 1963, Dallas housewife Lurene Hallett (Pfeiffer) is obsessed with Jackie Kennedy. Following the President’s assassination, she feels compelled to travel to Washington DC to attend the funeral, despite the protests of her husband Ray (Brian Kerwin). On the bus ride, the loquacious Lurene befriends a young black girl named Jonell (Stephanie McFadden), and by extension her father Paul (Dennis Haysbert). Following a misunderstanding, the trio find themselves on the run from the FBI while trying to reach DC before the funeral.

I would be fascinated to see the film in the hands of a more capable group of filmmakers. The film has a number of chances to say something about the state of race relations in 1963, integration, and interracial relationships. Every opportunity the film has to have something to say, it squanders. It is just a series of scenes with nothing to show for it.

Pfeiffer does solid work as a woman too single-minded to have any prejudice. She plays Lurene as naïve but sweet, if not annoying. Haysbert is given next to nothing to do while McFadden is given even less. She barely speaks and is little more than a storytelling device. A true missed opportunity across the board.

Next week: Miranda Richardson features prominently in two wildly different films with Enchanted April and Damage

All 1992 Oscar Blindspots
Oscar Justice: Michelle Pfeiffer

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