Madeline’s Madeline, the break-out hit from the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is one of the most unique and original films I’ve seen in years. There’s simply nothing else quite like it. The film stars newcomer Helena Howard as Madeline, a young girl spiraling downwards after the line between performance and reality begins to blur.
The film is remarkably ambitious, with both the unconventional storytelling and feverish directing, but writer/director Josephine Decker largely succeeds in grounding it’s emotional core. The underlying narrative of the film revolves around the relationship between three women: Madeline, Madeline’s Mother and Madeline’s Theatre Director. The way Decker plays around with these dynamics and role-reversals is both interesting to watch and effortlessly done. Much of the film is a blur, held together by the loose, liquid narrative and stellar performances. Many will find it incomprehensible and nonsensical, but for the rest, it’s going to have a powerful effect.
Madeline’s Madeline is a remarkable achievement, one that doesn’t come around often. Despite having a short 93 minute run-time, the film is expertly layered and the actors bring an incredible amount of depth to the characters. This is what the future generations of film majors will be studying.