2.9 stars. A hard film to sit with, though maybe productively so for neurotypicals who don't live in the regular with that kind of sensory overload. Madeline's brain reminded me of my own when younger and very, very much my ex-partner's, which wasn't something that increased my sense of comfort. Also, notably, a film that reminds me while I can't cope with America and will never ever go there again.
A mixed bag of a film. The cinematography is stylish and distinctive, but lapses too often into busy close-ups and moody vagueness. The lines between performance and "real life" are blurred so successfully that we are left wondering: "well, so what?" Caprice seems to take the place of desire and the whole thing is po-faced and humourless. A triumph of style over substance. Helena Howard's performance desrves better.
Performative cinema that blurs boundaries to the point of synaesthesia, Madeline's Madeline is one of the more inventive films of 2018, relying on bold and intuitive (improvised?) performances from its leads. Relying on shallow focus close ups to great effect, the plot emanates outwards from Madeline's insular life and unspecified mental condition. Decker comes from the mumblecore field, but this is something else.
Two troubled lives cross, part and collide in the cinematic dance of mother and daughter in Madeline’s Madeline – dependent on whether you stress the ‘e’ or ‘i’, its phonetics prompt a duality of the same name. Even if we are presented with a lot, we glimpse very little. One mind swallows the other, only to find itself swallowed up. Rhapsodic, lyrical, with moments of theatrical craft, this is one of the year’s best.
A brilliantly childish sensibility gives an airiness to weighty topics of identity, control and performance as exorcism. A fantastic central performance ties together these expressionistic threads. The cinematography and the editing play with each other to create these disorienting and emotive sequences. There are some flaws, but the film's heart carries it above them.
It's horrible, it drags (I've seen 180-minute epics that felt briefer than this), and it doesn't manage to make any interesting comments on the central relationships. A huge missed opportunity. But, hey, at least you get enough moments of actors pretending that they're animals. Can you even call yourself a thespian if you haven't convinced people you were a cat for five minutes?