The Beach

em 110 years ago into a well-to-do

Scots military family ther father is Major-

General Sir John Swinton and the ancestral home has been in the family since the 9th (ZOltithl. Katherine Matilda wintOn was (xlucater‘l at the same English boarding school as Diana Spencer.

Graduating from Cz‘irnbridge University in 1983. she took up acting in the early 808. spending a year wrfh the RSC and quickly garnering rtx2ognitron for what she refers to as her ‘gender blending' theatre roles. Among these. she portrayed Mozart in Pushkin's MO/art Arie Sat/err and a v-torkrng-class v-Joman impersonating her dead husmnd in Manfred Kar'ge‘s ‘-."-/orl(i V‘Jar ll tale Man To Man at Edinlxrrgh’s Traverse Theatre and later on film.

flat screen career began in earnest in 1986 when the late Derek .Jarman cast her in his biopic Caravaggio. 'l'hat film marked the btxiinning of a fruitful. eight-year period of collaboration between the intrepid actor and the iconoclastic (‘lrrector in which SWllilOl‘. appeared as renegade women in films as dry erger iffy themed as il’t/ar Hair/rem. l'J/ffgensz‘etn and. most notably. as the scheming Oucen Isabella in Edit/(it‘d //.

lit/rifle .Jarrrtan's death it 199:? robbed Sum-uteri of a ctose trier rd. she continued

working win radrcal or experruier'itar directors.

Though she r'errians best known for her perforzrwance as Virgina \"Joolf's gender— citangrr‘g adventurer ;r‘. Salty Potter's Orlando. S‘-.".l;l‘.7.(3". also 0.130021 significant illthiCi on the Amerizixan :i‘sdependent cznema as neurotic Eve 1.". Susan Strertfeld's Female Per/ersrons. More recentiy she has collaborated with exciting UK directors such as John May/titre; riot/e Is the Der/fr, fin: Roth titre lf"./t’1/'/()/l(}t and Danny Hague Vl/‘re Beacti .

'fhrs spring she appears tfl A(,/aptattori, 8; like Jon/es; ioilov-x up to Being John /"'./.~"(1/r'<(}‘/l(‘l'l. with Nicolas Cage. and in Cameron (Eros/es Writ/la Sky v-xrth Tom Cruise and

Edward If


coat and crocodile heels with not a follicle out of

place. plays conseryatiye housewife and mother. Margaret Hall. who. in the film‘s opening scene. yisits a Neyada gay club and offers a cash incentiye to her son Bean‘s fow~fife boyfriend. Darby Reese. to feaye well alone. When this fails and Darby is found dead following an argument with Beau. Margaret goes to increasingly desperate lengths to protect her boy. including consigning the body to a watery graye and entertaining would-be blackmailer Alek Spera (If/(Vs (ior'an Visttjic l.

f.ike contemporary cine—educated American filmmakers the (‘oen brothers and Todd Haynes. Siegef and .\fc(}ehee self-consciously draw on the genre of l‘)-l()s domestic melodrama that is now patronisineg referred to as ‘women's films‘ and includes such classic Sunday afternoon pot-boilers as [)ouglas Sirk‘s Imitation ()f [.1]? and .lIi/dn’t/ l’tr’t't't'. '/'/I(' l)('(’/) lim/ brings the genre tip to date by substituting the traditional conflict between downtrodden mother and rebellious daughter for a mother/gay son relationship.

Intriguineg. now that she is reyisiting classic American film genres as opposed to the fiuropean arthouse with which she is associated. Swinton insists that the role of Margaret Hall didn‘t feel remotely like a departure. ‘Although Scott and l)ayid are trying to reclaim an American film genre. I think this film manages to be both cleyer and emotional at the satne time. which is very rare.' she says. ‘It‘s yery easy for cleyer people to simply be cleyer and we‘re so used to ascribing emotional cinema to a schlock horror. .\l()R sentimentafism. which is one of the potential misreadings of this film.‘

Indeed. Swinton. who has two children by the painter and dramatist John Byrne. was attracted to the role as much for her identification with Margaret‘s dilemma as for the strength of the script. ‘As a cinema—goer. I‘d been wondering why people don‘t make that kind of film about ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances any more.‘


‘Where is my experience as a woman? Yeah Lara Croft, yeah Erin Brockovich but that’s not the whole

Swinton goes from housewife to conspirator in The Deep End

she says. ‘Where is my experience as a woman. my experience as a mother? Yeah Lara ('roft. yeah firin Brockoyich but. you know what. that‘s not the whole story.’

Swinton is on the verge of working in Scotland again (she‘s inyolyed in the postponed plan to film Alexander 'l‘rocchi‘s lira/1g {if/(1H1 with liwan .\fc(}regort and is optimistic about the state of our natiye film output. ‘I haye no idea what’s going on in fingland. l fiayent worked there for years. but it does seem to me that there is a Scottiin film sensibility. I am talking about directors like Lynne Ramsay. Peter .\fullan and l)ayid McKenzie. They don‘t fit in with the ninth "British" film renaissance in as many years. which is so tied up with the colonial dream and becatise of the way the funding system has changed. It‘s difficult to imagine a film being made in lingland for anything other than profit.‘

Yet. surer Swinton and her contemporaries. who successfully marketed no- budget films in Sfls Britain must take some credit for the eyentual realisation that cheap. tirade—for—lV films such as My limuti/ir/ /.(II!ll(/('I‘('Il(' and eyen Bil/y li/lt'utt could be giyen a cinema release and rake in the cash. 'l)erek .larman and I used to joke that we were the true 'l'hatcherite filmmakers becatise we could make our films for nothing and still make a profit] she laughs grimly. ‘ft was kind of a sick joke. btrt I knew that people were going to notice that this might be a way to make a fast buck.’

With Swinton's latest film being distributed by 2(lth (‘entury Fox. following a successful aprwarance at the Sundance f-ifni f-‘estiyaf. l 'lt’s \ery funny to me to hear that "burrup burn bttrrup burn" at the beginning t. it remains to be seen whether The Deep lz'm/ will become a crossoyer box office hit. Perhaps this talented. opinionated. charismatic actor will find herself becoming an oyernight moyie star. albeit by accident rather than design.

The Deep End goes on general release from Fri 14 Dec.