October 8, 1995

Winona Ryder's Wilderness Twenties

Ryder made thirteen movies in her twenties, when, to be blunt, she struggled to find an identity in Hollywood. Much of the time she seemed determined to make movies of all her favorite books (Age of Innocence, House of the Spirits, Little Women, How To Make An American Quilt, The Crucible, Girl, Interrupted). She made two movies which barely got released due to studio problems (Boys, Lost Souls). She was horribly miscast in Alien: Resurrection. She was 22 years younger than Richard Gere in a movie nobody wanted to see, Autumn In New York. That leaves her appearance in an unremarkable Woody Allen film (Celebrity), and her two unqualified successes: Reality Bites and Bram Stoker's Dracula. So where does this tattered trail of movies lead us? Ryder clearly would have been content to make period movies for the rest of her life. She made a series of good comedies in her teens, but totally gave up on comedy in her twenties (except for Reality Bites). All of her other choices are almost non-choices. I get the feeling that she made whatever movies came her way, agreeing to make movies not because she liked the material, or she was well-suited for the role, or it would advance her career. She never really made a "paycheck movie" in that span. Based on what we know about her personal life, she seems to be a profoundly sad woman who doesn't like this business at all.