As candid and as fascinating as Jodie Foster's speech was while receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award on the Golden Globe Awards, it was more brilliant of her to come out as ambiguous in announcing her acting retirement. Most audiences have become incredulous when actors or actresses say they'll retire from the movie business. That's only because those actors typically renege on their Hollywood emancipation proclamation in short order when they see their bank accounts shrinking.
Despite the film industry still having notable actresses, Jodie Foster is still within the Top 10 all-time greats based on her astute role diversity and believability. There must be few out there who would want to see her retire completely from acting. And yet her next acting role this August will be in a sci-fi film with an epic social message that perhaps she's sending fans.
How Jodie Foster ended up gravitating more to sci-fi in recent years is worthy of an article all its own. She's even said recently that she wants to direct a family sci-fi project once a script is finalized. But perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that she gravitates to sci-fi when it's the only genre left that dips deep enough into issues without having to act in a limited market indie feature for scale pay.
Those issue-oriented sci-fi movies will see a new high in this summer's "Elysium" from director Neill Blomkamp. Because it's from the mind of "District 9", you might think it's a direct sequel. With Jodie Foster at the helm and a plot of class warfare between a space station and Earth, it should stand on its own terms, as well as on Foster's own acting path.
It seems plausible that if she decides to hang up acting for the director's chair, playing someone that's a group analogy for the world elite would be an epic grand finale. The question is whether Foster would want to end her acting status at that point as an analogical political statement about the world's widening economic gap. In "Elysium", she's playing a government official adamantly sustaining a status quo of keeping the Earthly poor from entering a space station where the very wealthy live.
Of course, this sounds like Dickens in Space, which is perhaps what attracted Foster to the role considering her early 1980s Yale major was reportedly literature. And, above all, it's something that's never been done before as a point of reference to nearly all of her movie projects. We had yet to see her play someone working for the government, even if we saw her on the receiving end in the near classic "Contact."
You also could say that if "Elysium" is an acting swan song, playing a villain is a career topper when many of her previous roles were far from evil. It's the type of role that seems separate from what she really wants to do: produce or direct variations on the family film. The latter may be a branch-off from her early days at Disney where she made a number of good to so-so films for family audiences.
If that's her film destiny, then ending acting as a complex space villain can stand on its own pedestal for decades while pursuing an outsider's cinematic identity. Most actresses would be envious to be in such a position, especially with already extensive movie roles as a child that could also be called more adult than real adult roles.
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