The complicated women of pop culture are having a moment. Priscilla is one of the high-profile films of awards season, with star Cailee Spaeny front and center, and next year, we can anticipate Pablo Larraín’s latest biopic of a haunted woman to hit theaters as Maria, starring Angelina Jolie, begins production in Europe soon (they have an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA). The first-look images of La Jolie as the legendary opera singer were released yesterday, and yes, I NEED this film in my life.
I am a fan of Larraín’s work in general, but I especially like his fantastical take on women on the cusp, including his films Jackie and Spencer. Maria is said to focus on Maria Callas during her final days in 1970s Paris but will also tell her story “relived and re-imagined”. That’s the part I’m most into—Larraín doesn’t make typical biopics, he uses his muses and subjects to explore issues surrounding womanhood including marriage, betrayal, loneliness, and now, with Maria, perhaps aging and sickness.
Also, Angelina just looks fantastic in these photos. Does she look exactly like Maria Callas? No. Angelina Jolie is too famous and too beautiful to ever look like anyone but herself. But Natalie Portman didn’t look like Jackie Kennedy and Kristen Stewart didn’t look like Princess Diana, and yet both gave career-highlight performances as those women. And were both nominated for an Oscar in those roles. What’s to stop Angelina from doing the same? Nothing. Also, by the time Maria is released—anticipated for 2024—it will have been three years since we last saw Angie in Eternals. That’s not long enough to really call it a comeback, but it’s like a reset for her acting career. And wouldn’t it be something if Angelina pushed the reset button and came back with an Oscar-nominated performance?
In the Brange meltdown, Brad Pitt got Hollywood in the divorce. Angelina has her friends—notably Salma Hayek—but Pitt has remained the prom king of Hollywood, finally winning his Oscar in 2020, while Angelina has kept a somewhat lower profile in that sphere. It’s not that she hasn’t worked—she has—but she just hasn’t made as much noise as an actress lately (maybe if Eternals did better it would be a different story). After the last several years, there’s something sort of delicious about the idea of Angelina playing a woman who made an indelible mark on culture yet dealt with misperceptions, misconceptions, and public cruelty. It’s the closest subject-muse match in Larraín’s biopics so far. She may not look like Callas, but there is common ground there, and I cannot WAIT to see what Angelina does with it.
First look at Angelina Jolie in Pablo LarraÃnâ€™s next biopic about iconic opera singer Maria Callas. pic.twitter.com/0eYKz1izS1— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) October 9, 2023