Two of her very early roles stand-out in my mind: Touched by Love (1980) and Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981). Both films show her raw talent and ability to completely disappear into a character. In the case of the former, you really believe that she has a cerebral palsy. Lane delivers an absolutely heartbreaking performance as a girl who becomes a pen pal with Elvis Presley (based on a real life story). There is no obvious mugging for the camera or over-exaggerating mannerisms. In the latter, she plays a proto-typical riot grrl with just the right amount of punk rock attitude and charisma that you believe she could garner a loyal following of supporters.
Around this time Lane also worked with Francis Ford Coppola for the third time on The Cotton Club (she appeared previously in his S.E. Hinton double bill, The Outsiders and Rumble Fish). She turned down starring roles in Splash (1984) and Risky Business (1983) to appear in Streets of Fire and The Cotton Club, which were high-profile, big budget
During the 1990s, Lane alternated between conventional studio films (Judge Dredd and Murder at 1600) and independent films (My New Gun and Gunshy). Her strongest film to come out of this decade was 1999’s A Walk on the Moon opposite Viggo Mortensen. The film’s director Tony Goldwyn and producer Dustin Hoffman wanted Lane for the role of housewife
Lane earned widespread praise for her performance. Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman awarded the film an "A-" grade and praised her for delivering, "the most urgent performance of her career, is a revelation. The play of lust, romance, degradation, and guilt on her face is the movie's real story.” She received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Unfortunately, she didn’t win either and went on to pleasant if not predictable fare like Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) and Must Love Dogs (2005). The former features Lane as a professor of literature who divorces her husband after learning of his affair. She ends up going on a ten-day trip to
In recent years, Lane was given the opportunity to flex her dramatic chops with a strong turn in Hollywoodland (2006), a true-life murder mystery about actor George Reeves. While doing publicity for Nights in Rodanthe, a romantic film reuniting her co-star Richard Gere (they were in The Cotton Club and Unfaithful together), she expressed dissatisfaction with the types of roles she’s been offered, what she would like to do, and hinted at possible retirement. I, for one, hope that she changes her mind and gets offered some stronger roles in better films. As everyone knows,