Made­line’s Made­line | Breath


Di­rected by Josephine Decker

Over the last decade, Josephine Decker has built a sturdy rep­u­ta­tion among cinephiles for her thought­ful body of work. Made­line’s Made­line is an­other wor­thy en­try in her oeu­vre, though it’s cer­tainly not for ev­ery­one. New­comer He­lena Howard stars as Made­line (and this cer­tainly won’t be the last time we see her — she’s ex­quis­ite), a teen girl nav­i­gat­ing a strained re­la­tion­ship with her mother (Mi­randa July, ex­cel­lent as al­ways). She chan­nels her emo­tions and men­tal an­guish into ex­per­i­men­tal im­mer­sive the­atre re­hearsals with au­teur Evan­ge­line (Molly Parker), and the two form a strong bond. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, Made­line’s prob­lems catch up with her as Evan­ge­line’s ex­per­i­men­tal process starts to crack.

Made­line’s Made­line is ex­pertly acted, and Ash­ley Con­nor’s au­da­cious cin­e­matog­ra­phy is some­thing to marvel at. How­ever, de­pend­ing on one’s own pref­er­ences, the film be­gins to feel like a trap — the highly ex­per­i­men­tal cam­er­a­work be­gins to over­power the nar­ra­tive, ex­haust­ing the viewer. Fur­ther, like cilantro or Hamil­ton, ex­per­i­men­tal the­atre is a love-it-or-hate-it prac­tice. Decker, who has a back­ground in per­for­mance art, had her ac­tors train at a mod­ern clown­ing col­lege ahead of the film’s pro­duc­tion, and the re­sult is a group of peo­ple who prance, whoop, dance and make an­i­mal noises at odd times through­out. If you’ve ever cringed at a fringe fes­ti­val, you likely won’t be able to han­dle Made­line’s Made­line. That said, the film is a re­spectable achieve­ment and a worth­while con­ver­sa­tion starter about the ethics of art ex­ploit­ing men­tal ill­ness. (Bow and Ar­row)


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