Two women embark on a road trip after they are brought together by circumstance. Rebecca (Portman) flees her hotel after a fight with her mother-in-law (Maura) and hails a taxi driven by Hanna (Lazlo).
Every year the Viennale invites a famous director to produce a short film as the festival trailer. In 2013 the choice has fallen on Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat, world-renowned for... See full summary »
Natalie Portman delivers an astonishing character study as Emilia Greenleaf a woman who has, in her own words, broken one marriage, and seems unable to stop herself breaking her own following the death of her three day old baby. We see her demise through her relationships with William (Tahan), her husband Jack (Cohen), and his first wife Carolyn (Kudrow). When Portman is on screen with William the film seems to move in a believable direction and yet with Jack and with Carolyn, alone or together something seems not quite as understandably real.
At first I wanted to blame a lack of chemistry between Portman and Cohen and yet there are tender moments seemingly nullifying my questions about their relationship. Charlie Tahan is excellent throughout and so I am left with a question mark against the casting of Jack and Carolyn, or, perhaps, the screenplay involving them. Portman's character is simply played out as a determined and privileged young woman who cannot cope with being denied what she really wants and needs above all else - to be seen as the person she thinks she is and not the woman she really is. Her defensiveness is seen in many of the scenes Portman delivers which is why I consider her performance as astonishingly accurate and I just wish the flaws elsewhere could have been better handled.
Although there is a rewarding end to this film, a catharsis if you wish it to be one, it still leaves a feeling that you have watched an unfinished work, one which could and should have delivered so much more from the characters around Emilia. Perhaps, at heart, the film cannot get beyond a feeling of superficiality that surrounds some of the plot, which is a pity because it could have been so much better.
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