Make Me Up

The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews Film -

Dir Rachel Ma­clean Star­ring Christina Gor­don, Rachel Ma­clean, Co­lette Tchantcho Length 84 mins Cert 15 Here’s some­thing straight out of left field: a sur­re­al­ist cri­tique and freaky satir­i­cal night­mare on the sub­ject of fem­i­nism, fe­male body im­age and so­cial me­dia, with some­thing of Lewis Car­roll, Terry Gilliam and maybe a lit­tle of Clio Barnard in its sub­ver­sive use of lip-sync.

We are plunged into a dis­turb­ing vir­tual re­al­ity world, or maybe an on­line gam­ing arena full of mi­graine-in­duc­ing colours, where a num­ber of women are dressed like ro­botic Bar­bie dolls or Step­ford Wives, with names like Siri and Alexa, re­spond­ing to com­mands and presided over by a deeply weird and dis­ap­prov­ingly haughty madame, who speaks only in dubbed phrases cut up and mashed up from, of all peo­ple, Ken­neth Clark, pre­sen­ter of the high-minded and unashamedly western-ori­ented TV clas­sic from the 60s: Civil­i­sa­tion.

As Clark des­cants on the sub­ject of the ide­alised fe­male form in great art and sculp­ture, these pout­ing soft-porn fig­ures un­der­mine his airy pa­tri­cian apho­risms. Later they will eerily par­rot all sorts of other voices: Mar­garet Thatcher echoes dis­tantly.

It could be that Make Me Up is the dis­tended ver­sion of a short film, but it is gen­uinely very strange – and re­fresh­ing to find some­thing with­out the re­as­sur­ing form of a story or even the ob­vi­ous form of any­thing at all.

“What’s not pro­hib­ited must be made com­pul­sory!” de­claims the Ken­neth Clark madame, quot­ing TH White, and this is like a sur­re­al­ist man­i­festo. Any­thing goes. It is a dis­qui­et­ing sugar over­load. PB

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