Pitt best performances—in The Tree of Life and Fight Club—are in roles where his character is enacting someone else’s subjectivity. In those cases, his mysteries are the film’s mysteries, his lacunae the gaps in the protagonist’s own understanding of the world. Our ideas of what good acting is and what acting is for—the revealing of a character’s inner mysteries to the audience without over-indication—arose at the same time as the flourishing of psychotherapy, a practice that promised similar revelation to the client. I write this not to denigrate either—conventionally good acting and therapy are both marvelous things—but simply to note that there is an understanding of the world (if not a kind of ideology) embedded within our preference for transparent acting.
Given that, I’m grateful there are a few performers out there demonstrating a different truth. That we, at times, are unknowable to each other and to ourselves. That humans are a complex mystery. That sometimes solving that mystery is impossible. That behind a wall can be another wall.