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like queen of earth - and unlike their grandma, persona - excellent central performances draw the viewer in. like persona - and unlike queen of earth, as far as i remember - an early shot promises great things (the introduction of anna, framed as a performance). the performances deliver to the very end, but the movie flounders.
to begin with the strong aspects, much like the movie does, it has superb characterization and portrayal of friendship dynamics. the best part about it is that it actually is dynamic, only slowly revealing the true face of the leads, which casts a different shine (pun not intended) on their relationship. well, that and the excellent performances. like other recent movies centered on female characters, it explores acting (as profession), rivalry, and the demands on women trying to succeed in the industry. and not just in the industry - it's a constant, more understated than the main message that men prefer quiet, agreeable, weak-acting beth to brash, outspoken anna. we begin in beth's perspective, so it takes awhile to realize that this is a facade; that she is hiding behind it up to the point when we see her pose into a victim when her betrayal is unveiled and anna is about to confront her. the movie's stated message might be unsubtle, but then it shows us our own biases because where do our sympathies lie in this frayed relationship? what is the turning point, for the viewer, when s/he turns away from beth?
it was a good, interesting beginning, with something to say. it would have been a great movie had it executed the genre switch better.
first, the quick inserts of flash forwards/backs were excessive and didn't quite fit with what was on screen: an intimate, tense, but quite mundane friendship. second, the effects on voices and such... what was up with that? the dissolution of reality? but it first occurred as they were driving for the first time, which was way too early.
third, the last part of the script is a mess, and not in a good way. what was happening? what? i've just watched evolution and that is also a movie that leaves you with questions, but it works without delivering an answer because, ultimately, the answers would not change anything. not so here. the questions regard the actual plot. say, anna kills beth and has a break down, their identities merge/switch/were always the same person. but then there is that guy who only knew beth and really sees anna as beth. is anna actually beth-as-anna because she snapped (at the end we don't see the body)... but she keeps her old personality, and also hallucinates an anna-personality-looking-like-her? how would that make any sense? is this just a "fuck it, it will happen because persona."?
i'm not ranting because i disliked the movie. i am ranting because i was disappointed. until it was bad, it was really, really good. the 3 rating is an average.
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