For years Madonna has tried to prove not only herself, but the public eye, that she can act. Unfortunately, trying too hard while failing to shed her own persona doesn't mix well.
She seems to fare better when she' the star of any movie: if you watch her in supporting performances in DESPERTLY SEEKING SUSAN or A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN she actually comes off looking good. Since the story revolves on other actors, the weight of the expectation is taken off her shoulders by default.
The trouble starts when she is asked to be the star of a movie, regardless the genre. Being the focus of a plot that needs to be told in a visual way, whether it be good, mediocre or plain awful, she has to emote in ways that are akin to an actual movie performance as opposed to a video performance. This is the crucial difference between Madonna and, let's say, Bette Davis, or Meryl Streep. The latter two, even if the movie were to fail (because the visual storytelling lacked some effectiveness in having us relate to it, or because the script fell short, or because the actress per se was just not at her moment), there would be an extra something in their performances that would elevate the movie from being a complete bomb. Both Davis and Streep have had their share: Bette, having a longer career than Streep, in such fare as BUNNY O'HARE (1971) and WICKED STEPMOTHER (1989); Streep in SHE-DEVIL (1989). But at least there's been that naturalism in the way both attacked their roles that made us forget the banality of the movie and watch the performance.
What are your thoughts on Swept Away?