While Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for her supporting role as the sickly prostitute Fantine — who sings the showstopper “I Dreamed a Dream”– in the 2012 big-screen adaptation of the musical “Les Miserables,” it wasn’t the first time the actress was bestowed with a major showbiz award for crooning a tune. In 2010, she was the voice of a princess character on “The Simpsons” named Penelope who joins “The Krusty the Clown Show” in order to attract more girl viewers. Initially, Krusty dislikes his new female sidekick, until he realizes that Penelope is his biggest fan. Then it’s love at second sight.
Near the conclusion of the episode,”Once Upon a Time in Springfield,” Hathaway’s Penelope performs a lovely bittersweet version of “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. She ended up winning a Emmy for for Best Voice-over Performance. While the star has primarily focused on films and has done minimal small-screen appearances, the actress did get her start on the family sitcom “Get Real” on Fox in 1999.
While her lone Golden Globe win was for “Les Miserables,” she could soon be up for another — this time for TV as a Limited Series Actress. Hathaway is the centerpiece of one of the stories told on Amazon’s new anthology series “Modern Love,” based on the weekly column that runs in The New York Times. In her episode, titled “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am,” she plays Lexi, a lawyer who suffers from an untreated bipolar disorder. We first see her writing a dating site profile in her roomy Manhattan apartment but then we are transported to the day years before when an early-morning craving for fresh peaches leads her to go to the produce aisle of a supermarket.
Lexi is attired in a shimmering top made of shiny gold sequins and sports a coat with a substantial fur collar. Meanwhile, her reddish hair screams old-school Hollywood bombshell. She suddenly strikes a Broadway dance move near the lemons and off she goes to flirt with a handsome young man (Gary Carr) near the apples and strawberries. She tells us, “If you can find love in a supermarket early in the morning, you know you can trust it.” Soon shoppers are sort of prancing about behind them and she has this guy wrapped around her finger. He tells her, “You just totally brightened up my day. I was all, like, tired … and Rita Hayworth walks up to me in a supermarket.” They make a date for Thursday evening.
But their attraction to one another is so electric, he decides to skip out of work so they can grab coffee together. When they part in the parking lot, she breaks out with full-on choreography as others New Yorkers milling about join in her dance routine. She then begins to sing, “I just met a man in the peach aisle with a twinkle in his eye. Today’s world is kind and fabulous, not a cloud up in the sky.”
She then goes to work, where her female co-worker (Quincy Tyler Bernstine) also mentions she looks like Rita Hayworth. We learn she has been missing too many days at work and her friend tells her that it’s no-no. She rides her bike home, pours out her peaches into a bowl and suddenly a cloud of gloom seems to be hovering over her. Yes, she has gone into a depressive phase — which she compares to “a monster from an old black and white movie walking and no matter how fast you run, he keeps up with you.” She then takes to her favorite refuge — her bed. As for that Thursday date with the guy whose name is Jeff? She keeps it but just barely as she mumbles her way through the night.
Hathaway continues to see-saw through what is essentially a dual role, depicting the juggling act that those who suffer with such emotional swings go through. Lexi tells us that she tried all sorts of therapy, analysis, electro-magnetic, cognitive behavioral and drugs but to no avail. When the darkness dissolves, she makes another go at forming a relationship with Jeff and all goes well — until it doesn’t again. We are given a Mary Tyler Moore-like segment when Lexi prances around the city with a white fur chapeau and throws the hat in the air. But soon she will be drooping again. Just so we get it, Lexi watches Hayworth on TV doing her steamy “Put the Blame on Mame” song from “Gilda.” But then she remembers a oft-quoted line that the actress once said: “Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda and woke up with me.
While each of the eight episodes of “Modern Love” has their pluses and minuses, to me Hathaway’s offering is the standout as we can palpably feel her anguish when a dark cloud suddenly consumes her again. When she confesses to her caring co-worker that she is bipolar (watch video above), you visibly see the weight lift off of her. Another plus? A role with music involved is definitely Hathaway’s good luck charm.
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