David Edelstein pens a characteristically smart and moving eulogy to Sydney Pollack, the actor:
It began with Tootsie, a role that Pollack stepped into reluctantly, and the reluctance is right there onscreen, in a good way: The agent, George, just wants to do his job, eat his lunch. (That’s his motivation.) ...
In Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, Pollack is even more brilliantly instinctive. It helps that the actor to whom he’s reacting is Judy Davis, whose motor would run too fast for almost any living creature, let alone Pollack’s Jack — one of those patented Pollack brisk executives with no time for a lot of neurotic nonsense. After Jack leaves his wife (Davis) and takes up with a young blonde (the marvelous Lysette Anthony — where is she?), Pollack hits a career peak. Watch the scary scene in which he chases Anthony out of a party: This is a man with a visceral horror of losing control who is losing control.
He didn’t lose it again like that onscreen, but few actors could make matter-of-factness so unnerving. His final scene in Eyes Wide Shut was criticized for going on and on even by people who liked the movie, but on its own terms the performance is perfect. Pollack is a rich guy in his rec room telling Tom Cruise’s na