There’s no justice in the world. I think that much is official now. Otherwise, how else would John Krasinski, of It’s Complicated and License To Wed fame, be recently married to the charming, funny, all-acting, all-singing Brit babe-stravaganza who is Emily Blunt? I mean, I’m sure he’s a lovely chap. But License To Wed? Where’s karma when you need it?
I can’t deny there’s some sour grapes on my part. (What, you noticed?). Despite a dodgy 2010, in which dross like Gulliver’s Travels, The Wolfman and godawful Brit-com Wild Target stained an otherwise impeccable CV, Emily Blunt seems dangerously close to being the perfect woman. In addition to her jaw-dropping looks, she’s one of the most versatile and nuanced actresses working today, never failing to be the best thing in any of her films. So you win this round, Krasinski, but read on after the jump anyway as Flixist looks over her already distinguished career, the many reasons for her enormous appeal, and perhaps fantasizes about what might have been if Mrs. Blunt (goddamn it, I’m not saying Mrs. Krasinski) had instead taken a shine to, oh I don’t know, a certain English internet film reviewer/features writer, perhaps?
Anyone who has seen My Summer of Love will know exactly why it propelled Emily Blunt to stardom, and not only for cinema’s most lascivious misuse of a tennis court. (Insert “No balls, please!” Wimbledon gag). The fact that she played a manipulative upper-class girl coercing a new friend into topless lesbian experimentation is reason alone to barrel down to your local video rental as fast as your legs can carry you, but it was the subtlety in her performance, her character Tamsin hiding her splintered soul behind a veneer of aloof seductiveness and faux world-weariness, that really captured people’s attention, outshining even distinguished co-star Paddy Considine.
Her next notable appearance was in TV film Gideon’s Daughter, directed by the great Stephen Poliakoff, in which she played a political publicist’s daughter driven to despair by their inability to find an emotional connection. On the surface, her roles in Gideon’s and Summer seem quite similar, variants of the neglected rich girl trope. Yet while Blunt played both with a similar sense of detachment, where in Summer her character Tamsin has been poisoned by her challenging experiences and only relates to others through making them complicit in her pain, Blunt finds in Natasha (her Gideon’s character) a young girl fighting to stay afloat in an adult world, desperate to live up to everyone’s expectations of her but quietly breaking down through her inability to find the love she needs from her father (Bill Nighy). In the film’s standout scene, Blunt reveals her singing talent in a rendition of Papa (a song written for the film by Poliakoff and Adrian Johnston) that is at once hauntingly beautiful and utterly heartbreaking.
Hollywood quickly came calling and in her first American excursion, she blew Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep off the screen in The Devil Wears Prada as flame-haired office bitch Emily. Even as Streep’s portrayal of Miranda Priestley was being critically lauded, Blunt was the film’s real breakout star. Once again, her talent for portraying characters hiding deep insecurity and self-doubt beneath a seemingly confident and forceful exterior was holding her in good stead. The black widow dress sense and smouldering stare didn’t hurt either.
Blunt next appeared in a string of indie comedies (plus a sexy cameo in Tom Hanks vehicle Charlie Wilson’s War) that tapped into her mix of natural grace and easy-going charm, none moreso than Christine Jeff’s Sunshine Cleaning, where she shared great chemistry with co-star Amy Adams, bouncing her character Norah’s aimless exuberance against her uptight sister Rose (Adams). Even if reviews for the film were mixed, the two actresses (who became close friends on set) were pinpointed by critics as the reason for much of what worked.
Blunt’s next project was The Young Victoria, a dramatisation of Queen Victoria’s ascent to the throne and romance with Albert. Despite its slightly suspect grasp of certain historical events, the role of Victoria was perfect for Blunt, fitting into her specialty of playing conflicted women while putting her sophistication and eloquence to the fore. Although the film was nominated for three Oscars (winning Costume Design), Blunt’s monumental performance disgracefully only received recognition through a Golden Globe nomination for Dramatic Actress, which she lost to Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side.
Fortunately, she made herself and her fans feel better in all sorts of ways by doing photoshoots like the one below, for Elle magazine’s September 2010 issue. (Photographer: Matthias Vriens McGrath).
So if you like women who are insanely talented in many fields but completely unpretentious, beautiful in appearance and manner, able to mix sophistication with a glint of mischief, then chances are that Emily Blunt is the woman for you. Celebrate then today, the day of this magnificent woman’s birth, and join in a chorus of: ‘Damn you, John Krasinski!’ You can see more of Emily from next Friday (March 4th) in The Adjustment Bureau, where Matt Damon understandably tries to change the future so he can fulfil his romantic dreams with her despite the best efforts of Roger Sterling (aka John Slattery) and his team of timeline-adjusting hired goons. If you’re really desperate just for the sound of her voice, there’s also Gnomeo & Juliet, but even her crisp tones might not be worth that much pain. Well, possibly not. Probably. (Oh crap).
Happy birthday, Emily.
Second Opinion: John Krasinski is a lucky man. A talented, busty wife like Emily Blunt must make him the envy of everyone in the office. Starring in a variety of films, from fleeing in terror from werewolves in The Wolfman to Amy Adams’s foxy, crime-scene cleaning sister in Sunshine Cleaning, she has wider range than many actresses in Hollywood today. With two big movies (The Adjustment Bureau and Looper) on the horizon, Blunt is here to stay, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sean Walsh
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