In J.A. Bayona’s El Orfanato (2007), the main character is sure her house is haunted. The husband, like so many horror movie husbands before (and after) him, refuses to believe in all this illogical ghost nonsense. And of course he disapproves when she recruits a wizened, matronly medium to talk to the spirits of her childhood friends. To him (and a police detective in cahoots with him), it’s all just spiritual mumbo jumbo intended to somehow bilk the couple out of their money by preying on their grief. But Aurora the medium is trustworthy, and you know how you can tell? Because Geraldine Chaplin plays her that way.
I love the younger Chaplin almost as much as I love her father. She starred in two of my favorite 1970s films – Nashville and Cría Cuervos – and guess what? In the latter film, the masterpiece of her husband Carlos Saura, she played a friendly ghost! (Kind of.) She was also heavy-hearted mentor figure in Almodóvar’s Hable Con Ella. So who better to play the one-scene role of a medium who steps into an emotionally fraught situation, and struggles (through supernatural means) to make it just a little better? Just look at her up there: so intelligent, so fragile, so careful with her client’s feelings. Look at the subtle, expressive parting of her lips. She’s not a Chaplin for nothing.
Plus, I just found the best picture ever of her, and now I love her even more. Behold.