...all of the characters in this astounding book/movie were as good or as unimportant as viewers/readers found them to be, simply because William Styron developed them that way: Stingo WAS an unexperienced nerd, having lived an idyllic life in the South with nothing happening in his life, yet aspired to write the Great American Novel; how perfect for a virginous male to so fortunate to live with people who educate him what a horrendous journey life can be. McNichols was perfect for this role, because he was the opposite of Sophie. Nathan was mad and KNEW he was mad, longing with all his soul to be otherwise; a little madness drives people to do astounding things. Kline was perfect; what a shame he has never found another role as good. Sophie was the haunted lady whose life made her that way; Styron's development of her character is masterful. I read an interview in which he was asked how he felt his novel was presented in the film. His reply, "I took the money and ran." He could foresee there would be controversy over his work.
Some viewers, especially the younger ones, cannot appreciate how actresses have developed over the life-time of movie-making. They should watch some of the "silent" films to learn that mime was the only way to express an emotion. Mellodrama, intentionally so - yet, look at the entire work of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as examples of contrived performances. They were, at last, able to confront one another in "Baby Jane" - attempting to "out-drama" one another made it the wonderful film it is.
There is simply no other actress, that we know of, who is more talented a performer than Streep. Unlike Davis and Crawford, she is not concerned about her "star-power". She becomes whatever character she is playing, no matter if we like them or not. SO WHAT if "Sophie's Choice" was a vehicle to demonstrate her power? Please write another !! William Styron, stand forth ! Because of her absorption into her characters and the many nuances she developed in "Choice", take a look at "The Deer Hunter" to see how powerfully she played an un-extraordinarily plain woman perfectly. Under-playing a character, to make you believe people are actually like that, is the mark of a great actress.
I ardently pray there will be another role for Ms. Streep - even in her older years - that will allow us to become totally engrossed, to get outside of our own lives, to become completely destroyed, delirious, shattered just for a couple of hours, to realize there is still such talent in the world - THAT WE CAN AFFORD TO WATCH, at least.....thank heavens for this magical film.....