FILM REVIEW: “Actress”
WORDS / LANCE ST. LAURENT
Ed. Note: The 2014 Little Rock Film Festival brought a variety of films – local, domestic and international – to the Natural State. The Idle Class is reveiwing several of these films.
Dir. by Robert Greene
You probably don’t know the name Brandy Burre, but if you’ve watched HBO’s The Wire you may know her as Theresa D’Agostino, Thomas Carcetti’s slick campaign manager from seasons three and four. After her breakout role, Burre dropped off the pop-culture landscape, choosing to pursue a life of domesticity and child-rearing in lieu of furthering her acting career. Robert Greene’s Actress follows Burre as she decides to begin acting again, her marriage crumbling all the while. At first, it would seem strange to focus a feature length on this one little-known actress. Her struggle, to further her career while maintaining a grip on her family life, is not particularly unique. Watching her try to find roles in the face of the entertainment industry’s disdain for middle-aged women, recalls the stories of dozens of talented actresses whose careers faded once they hit thirty. Ultimately, though, this is part of the point. Burre is a complicated woman, and Greene’s film is bracingly intimate, often lingering on its subject in close-up for long stretches to allow us to read her emotions. However, as its title suggests, Burre could be any actress; the film is as much about the seemingly impossible juggling actresses (and women in general) face to keep both a stable career and a well-adjusted family.
With this intimacy, Greene catches moments of raw, beautiful emotion—a night of intoxicated merriment with friends or a tense exchange with her departing husband over rolling pins—but the film never quite comes together as a cohesive whole. These lovely moments are undercut with scenes that feel indulgent or repetitive. The result is a film that feels shapeless at times and fails to develop a substantial thesis. As an intimate portrait of Brandy Burre, the film is surely a success. Sadly, it is little more than that.