The thing was still there purring away the day after my trip home when I went to my screening of Madeline's Madeline, a film about the wily and oft-threatening relationship between mother and child but even more than that a movie about who gets to tell whose story. I have injected a lot of myself and my personal experiences into my reviews over the past couple of years - I Tonya got me talking about the abuse and poverty I grew in, Call Me By Your Name had me reminiscing about my first sexual experiences, and so forth. But those were mine.
We first meet Madeline (Helena Howard, an absolute revelation, make her the next big thing please and thank you) as a blur, a fuzz of hair and a lilt of meow, as she play-acts out a cat. Slowly from the murk stories form and we're able to suss out that Madeline is taking an acting class, and reality shifts to whatever she makes of it - call her a sea turtle and suddenly she's a makeshift sea-turtle flopping in the surf, soggy sleeves sand-logged.
I'm usually wary of films about the "craft" of acting because it's often treated a little emotionally precious for my tastes - I get why actors have to do what they do but I prefer the process remain mysterious, like making hot dogs; I don't need to crawl into the meat grinder with all the lips and assholes, but thanks. Just feed me. But writer-director Josephine Decker shakes out all the violence and manipulation from the process that she can, making it an act of abuse by excuse of psycho-therapy; creators smashing creation into jagged little chunks, angular shards of diamonds that leave everybody bloody on their way down. And that, to me, seems the truth of it.
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