“Madeline’s Madeline” Is a Trip down the Movie Magic Rabbit Hole

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

Madeline’s Madeline subway scene

Madeline’s Madeline courtesy Oscilloscope

Teenage Madeline has been practicing with a theater troupe: mimicking, acting, reacting, moving and feeling as a group. At times it’s playful and joyful; at times it’s weird. She seems so embraced by the odd ensemble of performers, especially their charismatic leader Evangeline (Molly Parker of Lost in Space). But Madeline is much younger than the rest, and Evangeline seems oddly focused on her. Strange, often magical rehearsals are contrasted with Madeline’s turbulent home life with her mother in Queens. Regina (Miranda July – Me You and Everyone We Know) seems like a normal mother, if a bit eccentric and maybe extra stressed out. However, as Madeline and her mother clash at home and the secret drama of Madeline’s life is exorcized in rehearsals, the picture becomes more clear, if slightly bizarre. Director Josephine Decker (Thous Wast Mild and Lovely) makes another highly theatrical film with a very experimental feel. If you’ve even seen live experimental ensemble performance, you’ll recognize its signature here (though likely still be swept up in it). If you’ve never encountered this kind of art before, then your trip will be even stranger. Backed by executive producer Joe Swanberg (Easy, Digging For Fire), what Decker does so well here is to immerse the viewer (almost physically) into both this world and Madeline’s unstable mind, while never completely abandoning reality. Decker has also discovered a potential star in Madeline (newcomer Helena Howard), who inhabits the very center of this mysterious story with a natural ease and intensity. THE WORD: It’s the kind of film that will tickle your brain after it’s over. COMING TO: Theaters

Last modified: September 10, 2018