In 1985, Swinton began her long collaboration with Derek Jarman, both as a friend and fellow artist. She made her screen debut in his Caravaggio (1986) and appeared in every one of the director's films until his death from AIDS in 1994. It was for her role as the spurned queen in Jarman's anachronistic, controversial Edward II (1992) that Swinton earned her first dose of recognition, becoming a familiar face to art-house audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and earning a Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her work in the film. The acclaim and recognition Swinton garnered was amplified the same year with her title role in Sally Potter's adaptation of Orlando, Virginia Woolf's classic tale of an Elizabethan courtier who experiences drastic changes in both gender and lifestyle over the course of 400 years.
Following appearances in Jarman's Blue (1993) and in his acclaimed biopic Wittgenstein (1994), Swinton earned some of her strongest notices to date for her lead in Female Perversions (1996), in which she played a successful lawyer trying to cope with her own insecurities and self-destructive tendencies. She then portrayed another brilliant, troubled woman in Conceiving Ada (1997), a science fiction piece that cast her as the real-life daughter of Lord Byron, a woman who was widely held to be the inventor of the first computer.
Never one to choose films for their simplicity or mainstream appeal, Swinton subsequently appeared in Love Is the Devil (1998), John Maybury's controversial account of the life and times of artist Francis Bacon. She then portrayed a battered wife in The War Zone (1999), Tim Roth's hellish portrait of extreme family dysfunction. Following on a slightly lighter note with Trainspotting director Danny Boyle's The Beach in 2000, Swinton would later take the lead in The Deep End (2001). Noted for her delicately textured performance as an isolated and protective mother who makes a desperate bid to protect her son after assuming he has committed murder, many critics noted Swinton's performance as a key element to the film's success. That same year the talented actress would take-on multiple roles in a complex tale to cyborg fantasy and speculative science fiction, Teknolust.
~ Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide
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