Too often we give actors a free pass because of their fame, the accomplishments of the director, the plot of the film, the level of action, the realism of the set/props, etc. "Fury" starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Peña, Jason Isaacs, and Scott Eastwood - was released yesterday in U.S. theaters. What follows is a nonverbal analysis from just two moments of the movie. Does the body language of the actors fit the context? Are they accurate and proportional to the scene?
Here Pitt's character (Don "Wardaddy" Collier) just learns about a new assistant driver for his tank crew (Norman "Machine" Ellison - played by Logan Lerman).
This image shows Pitt in a moment of combined frustration and anger. The mouth alone has several components. Note the how thinned his lips are - this is highly characteristic of anger. Pitt's teeth are clenched - otherwise we would be additionally seeing a full Inward Lip Roll (ILR) - this is a partial one because of his clenched teeth. A full ILR expression is a nonverbal which is unfortunately very rarely utilized in acting. Pitt's jaw is also jutted forward along with nostril flaring. His bilateral near-complete eyelid closure signifies a highly emotional processing of new information and its associated anger-frustration. The additional MAP (manipulator, adaptor, pacifier) of Pitt wiping his hand tightly backwards over the top of the head is highly correlative to frustration-anger.
Pitt's Nonverbal Grade in this acting moment: A
Here Lerman's character is firing his machine gun. His character initially hesitated because of fear and that is what emotion he's trying to project. However higher levels of fear are difficult for most actors to replicate accurately.
One thing that is nearly impossible to for any actor to perform is to consciously make their pupils dilate - as they would in moments of great fear. Photoshop/CGI can be used to replicate this, but great care must be used so as not to misplace or eliminate the corneal reflections.
Pupils aside, Lerman's eyelids should be opened wider than we see here. His nostril flaring is being performed well (accurate for this level of fear) - however his mouth's morphology is not acting nearly as good. The corners of his mouth, while they are being pulled back here and somewhat downwards - are a bit off. When the mouth corners are pulled backwards but primarily the upper teeth are exposed - with little or no exposure of the lower teeth, this is consistent with lower levels of fear (such as social embarrassment). However when the fear is dramatic (such as for the very high levels of fear as would be occurring in this moment of life and death), the lower lip is pulled down much more so - thus we should see no upper teeth - but his lower teeth should be dramatically exposed.
Logan Lerman's grade for this moment: B-
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