Jolie creates a performance that is both grandiose and subtle. You constantly sense that Maleficent is holding herself in check. Even as Maleficent’s life is one big gaudy performance, she’s actually giving nothing away. She’s an introvert playing an extrovert, or a version of Auntie Mame with an immense reservoir of pain right under the surface. Without giving too much away, Maleficent has a pretty surprising arc in this film, and it works because Jolie completely sells the emotional transformation her character goes through, without ever overplaying. She is destined to become a goth icon, as well as a beacon to anyone who’s ever felt rejected and terrorized by this awful world. In a sense, Jolie is playing the same character Johnny Depp has tried to play for his last several films — except that it’s not just surface and mannerisms this time. There’s actually someone in there.
The number of teenagers who will walk out of this movie and straight into the arms of the goth community is going to be staggering.
Sorta like what happened to me when I saw Tim Curry and Mia Sara’s black dress in Legend. 🙂