(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/26.)
A onetime Southern belle, long ago abandoned by her husband, the father of her children, Amanda is a classic Williams woman, tethered to a beautiful past and struggling to stay on her feet in an ugly present. You can see why pretty much every formidable actress of a certain age has wanted to have a go at her. The list of those I’ve seen, onstage and on screen, includes Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Julie Harris, Joanne Woodward, Katharine Hepburn, Sally Field and Jessica Lange.
Some of them, though fewer than you would think, were good. Ms. Jones is great. She gives the foolish, garrulous Amanda — forever nagging her damaged children to be successes and nattering about the social triumphs of her youth — a towering, pathos-steeped gallantry. She is big because the world shrank on her, and she keeps trying to pretend that it hasn’t, even when she’s reduced to selling magazine subscriptions on the phone.