Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2018. Parris Pictures, Forager Films, Bow and Arrow Entertainment. Screenplay by Josephine Decker, Donna di Novelli, story consultant Gail Segal, story editor Sharon Mashihi, dramaturg Alexandra Tatarsky. Cinematography by Ashley Connor. Produced by Krista Parris, Elizabeth Rao. Music by Caroline Shaw. Production Design by Charlotte Royer. Costume Design by Sarah Maiorino. Film Editing by Harrison Atkins, Josephine Decker, Elizabeth Rao.
This riveting film is independent in multiple senses of the word, revolving around the troubled mind of the titular character, a young woman who has sought refuge from a turbulent home life in the rehearsal rooms of an experimental theatre group. Her mother (Miranda July, who is marvelous) has a hard time accessing her daughter’s mental state without breaking out into her own frustrated bouts of rage, so Madeline (a superb Helena Howard) gets more than just creative freedom from her rehearsals with Molly Parker‘s troupe; as the work progresses and a tension builds between these three women, centering on the control of both Madeline’s life and narrative, it creates problems both for home life and the work they are doing. Told in bold strokes that cut through narrative expectations without ever isolating the audience or emphasizing any pretentious levels of confusion, this film is one of the most original and vibrant works to come out in a very long time.