billy crystal, cinema, ewan mcgregor, film, good will hunting, kill bill, lucy liu, marlon brando, movie monologues, movie review, o-ren ishii, on the waterfront, robin williams, trainspotting, when harry met sally
Monologues are a particular kind of moment that make for fantastic cinema because they allow one actor or actress to create a really powerful scene, in which the viewers often end up pretty emotionally immersed.
Here’s 5 of my favourite monologues in the movies.
On The Waterfront (1954)
Marlon Brando is an actor that has been, and will continue to be remembered throughout history as one of the greatest. His “could have been a contender” moment in On The Waterfront really is something else. It’s one of those scenes that just gives me goosebumps, and it’s one of his many, many extremely poignant performances.
It was you, Charley. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said: “kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson” – you remember that? “This ain’t your night” – my night? I could’a taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you should’a looked out for me a little bit. You should’a taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short end money. You don’t understand. I could’a had class. I could’a been a contender. I could’a been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.
This is a really great monologue by John Hodge in Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Trainspotting. Staccato, poetic and gritty, these words spoken by Ewan McGregor are a thought provoking commentary on the tedious nature of day to day life for your average Brit. I love the monologue at the end of the movie too, and his differing perspective on life.
Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Anything in Robin Williams’ voice is just perfect. His voice literally sounds like those really light, fluffy clouds you get when the day’s really nice and the sky is blue. This moment, when his character is talking with Will, he gives the cocky kid what could be described as the godfather of all pep talks.
So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right: ‘Once more into the breach, dear friends.’ But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, and watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on Earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of Hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sittin’ up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms ‘visiting hours’ don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause that only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
This definitely has to be one of my favourites as stand out romcom. I absolutely love the moment at the end when Billy Crystal’s Harry finally realises what it’s taken him a long, long time to realise.
I love that you get cold when it’s seventy one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re lookin’ at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely. And it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
As far as hardcore, kick-ass female characters go, Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill is really up there. This is a pretty memorable scene in the first installment of the two movies, when O-Ren gives a speech to her all-male counsel to let them know where they stand. I’m fairly sure none of them messed with her after her speech. I’d say it’s more… unsettling than moving.
As your leader, I encourage you to from time to time, and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you’re unconvinced a particular plan of action I’ve decided is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you, and I promise you, right here and now, no subject will be taboo, except of course the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or my American heritage as a negative is, I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, NOW’S THE FUCKING TIME! I didn’t think so. Gentlemen, this meeting is adjourned.
What’s your favourite monologue in the movies?