She plays May-Alice Culhane, a soap actress, who is one first class bitch. She has just been accident and will be now be bound to a wheelchair, so she decides to return to her Louisiana hometown. Mary McDonnell, right from the beginning, let’s us know May-Alice was bitchy before the accident, but now she’s bitter and she will take her bitterness out on anyone.
Mary McDonnell received her second Oscar nomination for playing May-Alice Culhane, in Passion Fish.
Passion Fish is an average production, but it brought to a whole other level with the performances of Alfre Woodard and espeically, Mary McDonnell.
McDonnell does a great job of not only handling her character’s bitchiness, but also her fear and depression she suffered from her accident. She also never overplays the drunk part of her character. An easy character to screw up, but Mary McDonnell never does that.
I guess my reason for not giving Mary McDonnell a higher grade, is simply because I don’t think it’s anything too brilliant or amazing. She gives a great performance that she controls 100% throughout the movie, and never missteps, but again, the average quality of the movie doesn’t help her give a top-of-the-mountain performance.
Still, Mary McDonnell is able to transect many emotions with May-Alice, and she does it without thinking about how to do them. She becomes the bitchy paralyzed actress and makes us care and put of with her timid attitude. McDonnell knows what she’s doing, and the results is a great performance.