ONE STEP BACK: Emotion on the Faces Speaks Louder Than Words
By Greil Marcus
Published: March 23, 1998
''We didn't need dialogue in those days,'' Gloria Swanson's forgotten silent-movie queen says to William Holden's unemployed screenwriter in ''Sunset Boulevard.''① ''We had faces then!''
''The Practice,'' the noisy, unkempt legal drama that is broadcast on Mondays on ABC, has faces. Actors have to act, and characters must be projected through a whole but unstable physiognomic map upon which events -- crimes, verdicts, sex -- are registered, interpreted and then celebrated or suffered. The action proceeds through close-ups. On this show, if your face can't talk without words, you have nothing to say.
Maybe that's why I've been less gripped by the plots -- Who dismembered the doctor's mistress? Can the gay megalomaniac who murdered two lovers walk? -- than by Lindsay Dole's eyes. She's one of the five lawyers in the Boston law firm Donnell & Associates. It's poverty row, except that, as with all cops and lawyers in television shows, even people who don't make much money can still afford great-looking clothes.
这也许就是为什么相较颇具吸引力的剧情——“是谁把医生的情人分尸；谋杀同性恋人的自大狂会不会被无罪释放”，Lindsay Dole的眼睛更让我沉迷的原因。她是波士顿Donnell & Associates律师事务所的五个律师之一。这是一家很小的事务所，除此之外，和其他电视剧中的警察、律师们一样，他们虽赚不了几个钱，却还是穿得起华贵的衣服。
The office has two rooms. There's an office manager but no secretaries. Led by sallow, brooding, poker-faced Bobby Donnell, played by Dylan McDermott, the lawyers take up noble but dubious personal-injury cases -- four neighbors convinced that power lines gave them cancer -- and they defend scum. And get them off.
这家事务所有两间屋，有办公室总管但没有秘书。Dylan McDermott扮演面色蜡黄、表情僵硬的扑克脸Bobby Donnell，在他的领导下，事务所的律师们会为道义感而接下胜算不大的人身伤害案——四位近邻认定电力线导致他们患上癌症，同时他们也会为那些社会渣滓辩护，帮助他们逃脱罪行。
Lindsay, played by Kelli Williams, is a city lawyer with farm-girl looks: straight light-brown hair, a soft face, innocent eyes. That didn't hurt with the drug cases she handled so well. The dirtier the client, the cleaner she appeared in court. She's the classic still-waters-run-deep type. Coming in late to the office, her colleagues might find her hunched over her computer, or sitting on the floor trying to get drunk.
''I'm not capable of good sex,'' Lindsay says to Rebecca Washington, the office manager, played by Lisa Gay Hamilton. Date rape by an old boyfriend has her buried under guilt and shame. She's completely convincing. But not many episodes later, there she is in the office back room unbuttoning her blouse as Bobby Donnell watches. It's an old, secret affair.
“我不是什么床上高手”，Lindsay这样对Lisa Gay Hamilton扮演的办公室总管Rebecca Washington说。所有的观众都相信，在约会时被前男友迷奸的事让她陷入了深深的自责与耻辱。但是仅仅几集过后，在Bobby办公室里，她在他面前轻解罗衫，一段陈旧而私密的情感关系浮出水面。
But it's Lindsay who has pushed Bobby into an affair with Helen Gamble, a district attorney and Lindsay's best friend. Helen is played by Lara Flynn Boyle, a born vamp who suggests a fighting-weight version of Theda Bara②. When Helen and Bobby lock eyes and rush into a passionate embrace, mountains crumble, the heavens explode, all memories vanish, and pots and pans fall to the floor. But now, in Bobby's office, all of that looks like nothing more than a sweeps-week③ plot kicker that isn't working. Ten of Ms. Boyle's and Mr. Donnell's nude scenes don't equal the look that passes between Lindsay and Bobby as they promise this is just one last time.
可不论怎样，是Lindsay自己把Bobby拱手让给了Helen Gamble，那名检察官，同时也是她的闺中密友。Helen这个角色由Lara Flynn Boyle扮演，她是个可以和蒂达•芭拉②同级较量的天生浪荡女。当Helen和Bobby深情对视、激情迸发地拥抱时，仿佛天崩地裂、山河变色，所有的往昔记忆都在似火的激情中蒸发，身旁刀叉碗碟跌落满地。但是，此时此刻，在Bobby的办公室里，这些所谓的激情都在对比之下悄然失色，仅仅成了收视率调查前夕试图吸引眼球的无用伎俩③。要知道，哪怕是十场Boyle和Donnell赤裸相见的激情场面，也比不上Lindsay和Bobby约定“下不为例”时，那仅仅一次的四目相望，眼波流转。
There is a shy, almost high school smile on Lindsay's lips that, in an instant, turns into a Mona Lisa smile in her makeup-free eyes. For an instant, a character you've never glimpsed before emerges from behind Ms. Williams's face. She fills the room; with the scene cut, you wonder if she was ever there at all. But if you're a fan of the show, you're wondering where this unseen woman will turn up next.
Where she turns up next is nowhere. Bobby and Helen continue falling out of showers and slamming each other onto the floor. But when Lindsay worms her way back into the story line, it's with heavy, unsure liner around her eyes. She can't tell her friend Helen that she was once Bobby's girl, and she can't tell Bobby she's shriveling up because she can't sleep with him. Like a schoolgirl, she paints her face clumsily, almost garishly; she becomes the wallflower hoping the football hero she'd never have the nerve to speak to will somehow notice her. Here and there she looks like a hooker.
Her face seems to hollow out; her eyes all but struggle to rise out of their little prisons, even as, in plot terms, her character as a lawyer gets tougher with every show. It's the spookiest drama on television.
In the moments that set ''The Practice'' off from other good shows, the other actors, the other characters, match what Ms. Williams does with Lindsay Dole. When, in a huge, awful murder case Helen cannot afford to lose and that has destroyed her relationship with Bobby, Helen desperately offers a deal and Bobby refuses it, her face falls, all the way down.
The image is florid, overdone, straight out of the silents; then, as often happened in silent movies, once melodrama is established, tragedy follows. Ms. Boyle lets her eyes go blank, and then, slowly, her face dies.
With faces carrying the show, there is nothing beyond good in the dialogue. The wisecracks will not become catch phrases. But perhaps drawn to the melodrama of silent movies, David E. Kelley, the program's writer and producer, is at his best with speeches.
当表情支撑起这台剧，对白中便没有什么是更精彩的，那些俏皮话永远不会成为警言妙句。但是，或许他已沉浸在默片的夸张刺激中，David E. Kelley，本剧的编剧兼制片人，正处在自己编写台词的最佳状态。
''I got this case,'' Bobby says of the murder trial that, he knows, will end his affair with Helen, ''because somebody at a high-priced blue-chip law firm recommended me. As the best. I've been practicin' law in this, this rat hole for 10 years. Lookin' out the windows, seein' those, those lawyers look down on me. And now, one of them came into my office, and said I'm the best.''
Better still was a recent episode in which Lindsay confronts her old law professor. He is played by Edward Herrmann, that paragon of hulking WASP noblesse oblige. Now the professor is a tobacco lawyer whose clothes are all but made of money. He derides her firm as the best place in Boston for rapists, murderers, heroin dealers. ''At the end of the day,'' he says, twice -- draping the pompous Hollywood phrase over his former student as if it were a shroud -- she is going to have to account for herself, for all the slimy things she and the rest of the Donnell crew do.
I was afraid Mr. Kelley, who is not above ''don't even go there'' or ''he was there for me,'' had succumbed to the same sort of script disease that poisons most television. ''We defend murderers,'' Ms. Williams's Lindsay said to her onetime professor, ''but we don't facilitate murder.'' (Actually, sometimes they do.) ''Let's meet up,'' she said, '' 'at the end of our days' and compare legacies.''
As the episode ended, the professor, defeated, was seen walking back a long way, all the way to 1930, into the nightclub in Josef von Sternberg's ''Blue Angel.''④ Mr. Herrmann turned into the old professor, played by Emil Jannings, who is ruined by his love for Marlene Dietrich's cabaret dancer. If only for a moment, off screen, Ms. Williams's Lindsay had turned into Dietrich: one of those faces from when they had faces.
这一集结束的时候，精神被击垮的教授，缓缓走上一条长长的回归路，一路走向了1930年，走进斯坦博格的蓝天使夜总会里去了④。Herrmann 变成了那个埃米尔•强宁斯扮演的教授，他对玛琳•黛德丽扮演的夜总会歌女的爱，强大到足以毁掉了他自己。只要在仅仅片刻之间，画面之外，Williams 扮演的Lindsay成为黛德丽：成为那个让人过目难忘的 “靠脸表演”的女人。
②【Theda Bara】蒂达•芭拉，性感演员，美国早期默片红星，因其成功塑造了一个荡妇的角色，所以得了个 “The Vamp”的绰号，她的大部分影片毁于Fox的火灾，仅存3部。
④【Blue Angel】经典电影，德国导演Josef von Sternberg的作品《蓝天使》，主演是Emil Jannings和Marlene Dietrich。资料http://movie.douban.com/subject/1295427/