Her eyes -- over-wide, intensely focused -- she looks as if she's 21 not 41.
I look at her and find myself remembering such different, clashing visions of her -- Jerry Lee Lewis' child bride in "Great Balls of Fire," Richard Gere's exquisitely young, dying lover in "Autumn in New York," the powerfully dangerous girl who lusted for Proctor, the hero played by Daniel Day Lewis in the "The Crucible."
She's been an important, interesting, unique actress, more than a star, a real presence in the film industry since she was fifteen-years-old.
Those over-bright eyes -- the stabbing focus of them -- did someone tell the actress what to think,what to have on her mind as an actress, when being photographed?
I wondered if she would disappear after her arrest, her shop-lifting trial in 2002, that the famous lawyer bungled (Mark Geragos who defended Michael Jackson, not well, in one of Michael's trials).
Winona Ryder hasn't disappeared, but I can't turn off my sense that the inner-child of the girl-child she plays -- she IS -- was bent, IS still bent by the smear, the mud, the pity for her that has been in the air around her for nine years.
I remember Bess Myerson -- Miss America, TV commentator -- the headlines about her shoplifting. When I met Bess, I found her "bent" (excessively, nervously self-promoting). Remember the gorgeous "Charlies' Angel" Farrah Fawcet, who shoplifted? Britney Spears, was accused of shoplifting, and Lindsay Lohan has been accused of shoplifting, more than once.
I shoplifted a fake ring from a 5 and 10cent store when I was ten. Late for an appointment, I shoplifted barrettes when I was 26, but the policeman who caught me, kindly, didn't report me. A couple of years ago, when the drugstore raised the price on Mineral oil from $1.to $5, I put a bottle in my purse. (Okay, before I got into the line at the cash -register, I put in back on the shelf, but the shoplifting intention was there.)
Why does one shop-lift? Anger? A desperate sense of need? Is there something about the danger that makes shoplifting fun, or is it a ruin-yourself, semi-suicidal attempt?
Anyhow, I really admire Winona Ryder as an artist, a truly committed, gifted, major actress, who works at her work with that big-eyed intense focus that tells us, shouts -- I'm here -- see me -- enjoy me for what I am.
Over the years, she hasn't changed a great deal. The outfits change. The boyfriends change. Her attitude is mostly a mischievous girl, (not a woman), sort of laughing at herself and the situation she finds herself in.
Here's Winona is talking about her role in "Black Swan."
Here are bits from Arthur Miller's television film of "The Crucible," where I think Winona Ryder's performance was stunning.