Beware the pseudo-experimental feature film that begins with a declaration that ‘this is a metaphor.’ Madeline’s Madeline is the third feature film directed by Josephine Decker, but you’d never guess it based on how amateurish much of it is; the cinematography is blurry, murky, and wavers in and out of focus for no discernible reason other than to proclaim this is subjective. Long scenes of actors performing experimental theater exercises grow tiresome quickly, and have no formal or narrative value. The entire project feels like hours of coverage ham-fistedly edited together with no grace or rhythm. Decker does better work with actors: Molly Parker and Miranda July give good performances for the material they’ve been given, although neither can quite shape an actual character out of it. As Madeline, newcomer Helena Howard is shockingly good, especially given some of the nonsense she’s required to do. She gives a full-blooded, fearless performance, but the film ultimately fails her hard work, succumbing to easy ‘is this all in her head’ clichés. Decker strives for an epiphany, settles for fake transcendence.
Published as part of BAMcinemaFest 2018 | Dispatch 1.