Tilda Swinton: More Than Muse

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Grrrr! The Last of England

Tilda Swinton, born Katherine Matilda Swinton in 1960, is usually the best thing about most films, and that’s really saying something when you consider the incredibly great taste in directors that she has.  She’s often regarded as a muse, but that’s a complete disservice to her genius. Acid, comedic, subtle, OTT? Goddess, pauper, Queen, minx? She’ll school you.

I love her. Never trust anyone who doesn’t love this eloquent, witty and gorgeously ethereal woman. She brings grace and class to every role she takes on.

From her astonishing, guileless 1986 debut in Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio, the slow- burning and sensual biopic of the troubled painter, to Lynn Hershman Leeson’s cheeky and irreverent spin on sci-fi tropes from 2002, Teknolust , which I compared to Cindy Sherman and David Cronenberg in Across The Arts, she is chameleon, but never parodic.

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Underrated gem Teknolust

Simply put, she seems to disappear into the roles. You believe every arched eyebrow, every quip, every sigh.

In person, she seems charming, unassuming and disarmingly cheeky. She lives in Scotland and makes visual art with partner Sandro Kopp, which is surely a sane alternative to falling out of nightclubs like the vacuous Hollywood glitterati. She was previously in a long-term relationship with the wonderful John Byrne, who has immortalised her in loving, wispy paintings. Don’t get that with Jennifer Aniston, do you?

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Blooming in Orlando

Who else can do arthouse as easily as mainstream as Swinton? There are few who effortlessly switch genres with such ease. She’s grotesque and unrecognisable in The Coen Bros’ Grand Budapest Hotel (2016) proving a total lack of vanity.

She flits genders and crosses centuries in Sally Potter’s masterful take on the Virginia Woolf classic, Orlando (1988)  and sends up her own cool in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire flick with Tom Hiddleston, Only Livers Left Alive (2013) This is also very sexy. They make a gorgeous pair of lovers, whilst sending up the pretensions of hipsters.

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You would. In Only Lovers Left Alive.

In Jarman’s iconoclastic anti- poem to the lunacy of Thatcherism, The Last of England (1987) she unravels spectacularly and eats her wedding dress, long before Bjork was accused of doing the same when working with Lars Von Trier.

Luca Guadagnino’s wonderful I Am Love (2009) picks apart the scabs of a seemingly perfect Bourgeois family. Swinton brings dignity to this dissection of the upper classes and their hypocrisy.

Or consider her role in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin (2014) as a mom dealing with her own psychopathic offspring.

As if cinema weren’t enough, two of the best ever pop videos star my gal. Luke Losey’s 1996 video for Orbital’s The Box sees Swinton play an alien who has dropped in the UK and can’t process the consumerist madness and sensory overload she’s witnessing.

 

 

 

 

And who else could bump into David Bowie in the street, become firm friends with him and get asked to appear in his next video? Three guesses. She’s an uncanny partner and female lookalike to Bowie’s narcissist in the Floria Sigismondi  promo for 2013’s The Stars Are Out Tonight.

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Sending up stardom with Bowie

We shall officially, none of us, never ever be as cool as this woman. Would that we could bottle her essence. Tilda Swinton, I bloody love you.

 

 

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