Gemma Arterton Talks 'The Escape' As A Harper's UK 'Woman of the Year', Lensed By Richard Phibbs

Gemma+Arterton+in+Harper's+Bazaar+UK+Nov+2018+(6) mini.jpg

Gemma Arterton Talks 'The Escape' As A Harper's UK 'Woman of the Year', Lensed By Richard Phibbs

Actor Gemma Arterton is among Harper’s Bazaar UK’s ‘Women of the Year’, featured in the December 2018 issue. Gemma is styled by Miranda Almond with images by Richard Phibbs. /Hair by Perrine Rougemont; makeup by Anita Keeling

Arterton began as a Bond Girl, but now dedicates herself to playing strong female characters with a story to tell, writes Juliet Nicolson.

Writing about Arterton’s new film ‘The Escape’, Nicolson describes a moment in this ordinary, young wife’s morning.

Her boorish husband Mark, superbly played by Dominic Cooper, just doesn’t get her. He loves her in his own selfish, on-the-brink-of-abuse way, a relationship that Arterton says is ‘past its sell-by date’. Physical satisfaction is a one-sided process in Mark’s favour. The opportunity for a woman to say no to sex does not present itself easily within marriage, the backlash too great to risk. So Arterton’s Tara gives in to early-morning ‘conjugal rights’; in one agonising scene, she splays the fingers of one hand behind Mark’s back, stretching upwards in a silent yell of despair. As the camera lingers in an unforgiving close-up on Tara’s face, devoid of cosmetic gloss, the subtlest shift of expression reflects an inner despair, then her full beauty emerges when a rare smile illuminates her face, a curtain drawn back, sunshine flooding a darkened room. But the script belongs to the actors. Arterton found improvisation liberating and exciting. ‘It is up to you to react, and that can change everything in a moment.’ The transition she makes from acting the part to being the part is seamless. It is a brave, disturbing, profoundly moving piece of cinema. As the Guardian reviewer said, in a film with ‘no wrong notes’ it was also ‘unbearably painful’. When I saw The Escape alone, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, I was grateful for the cover of dark glasses even before I emerged into the street.

By contrast, in Arterton’s next film ‘Vita and Virginia’ scheduled for a spring 2019 release, she plays Vita Sackville-West against Elozabeth Debicki’s Virginia Woolf.