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Lighten up, Leo DiCaprio? Readers respond, Sharkey bites back

August 13, 2010 | 12:20 pm
Leonardo DiCaprio2

On Tuesday, I began an essay examining Leonardo DiCaprio's career with this question: "Is it just me, or does it seem as if Leonardo DiCaprio's acting career has somehow lost its way in the seventh level of "Inception's" labyrinth?" And before the ink was dry, like a bad moon rising, the reactions started rolling in...

Eric, a reader who periodically checks in when he thinks someone should hold my feet to the fire, was typical of the first wave. The subject line said it all: "It's you, Betsy." He went on to chalk up my musings to "female hysteria," and offer a couple of remedies... but at least he had a sense of humor about it. Besides, as he put it,  "No one ever said being a film critic was going to be easy. The shadow houses are banned in Saudi Arabia for a reason, dear." I love it when he calls me  "dear."

RB checked in from the lobby of "the old Warner Hollywood Studio" writing: "Leo is right now at this very moment a man, an actor, a talent to cherish and not to direct." Bummer, I always wanted to direct...

Leonardo DiCaprio3

Some of you got downright testy that anyone, let alone a clearly confused critic like me, would dare question the Great One. So, if Leo had any worries about his fan base, he can relax — though many of the e-mails were R-rated, suffice it to say, dude, they've got your back. 

To those who worried that Leo might actually take my advice and end up in a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston — don't. My guess is that Leo's not in the market for any more counselors, or critics for that matter. (Probably one less would do him quite nicely about now.)

To all the women who think that because I wrote about Leo, I must have him on speed dial (or his private e-mail): I don't. Though, trust me, if I did, gang, I wouldn't share...

As is always the case with opinion pieces, there are as many opinions out there as there are readers and apparently most of you decided to weigh in on Leo. Many clearly gave it some serious thought (and I'm not being cheeky here).

AD offered: "Truth is, Leo lacks tonal range and fails to modulate his performance. And he brings this weakness to all of his roles. He doesn't seem to be able to dial it down; to respect the silence..."

It went on, with a case so thoughtfully laid out that we wanted to print the letter. Unfortunately, it turns out AD's in the business — has never, but might some day, work with Leo, you know like when the moon is in Aquarius. Though AD did promise: "If I were working with Leo, I would tell him this to his face ... Because if he has an 'issue' like this, much of it is direction ..." Everyone blames the director, so maybe I don't want to direct after all.

Finally, Leo (not DiCaprio) wrote: "My wife and I left 'Inception' last night (which we liked) asking some of the same questions. It would also be interesting to turn things around: Why should such prominent filmmakers choose to focus on the DiCaprio character you describe — a boy-man who never quite knows the roots of his own emotional life, who creates great visions and obsessive plans that serve primarily to distance himself  from pains he rarely or never acknowledges?"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

— Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Top photo: Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception." Credit: Warner Bros. Bottom photo: DiCaprio in "Shutter Island." Credit: Paramount Pictures