Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father and Ma dreams of escape, Jonah embraces an imagined world all on his own.
Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.
Movies about mental illness are a dime a dozen, and it's hard to find one that has a take on the subject that hasn't already been done, but "Madeline's Madeline" comes pretty close. It's a very experimental film in some ways and one that will likely frustrate some viewers. I will admit to finding my patience tested at times, but overall I will say that the movie rewards sticking with it until its ambiguous end.
Madeline is a young woman whose acting talent either encourages her illness or gives her an outlet for it, depending on your perspective. Certainly her mom, played by Miranda July, is suspect of Madeline's troupe of acting friends and especially her acting teacher, but whether this suspicion arises from a mother's natural instinct for managing her daughter's fragile mental state or the threat that her control over her daughter might be jeopardized is not made entirely clear. Perhaps it's a bit of both? Certainly she has some reason to be concerned, because Madeline's teacher has no qualms about exploiting her illness for what it brings to the vague theater project she's working on. I've always only half-jokingly believed that the very best artists the world has produced are always a little bit crazy, and "Madeline's Madeline" seems to suggest that the fine line between sanity and artistic brilliance is a fuzzy one.
The chaotic film making, with its abrupt cuts, jumpy camera, and disorienting whirls and spins can be read as a visual representation of Madeline's disassociated mental state, but I wished the director would have calmed down a bit.
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