The radical in everyday life in a new American docu-comedy series and a classic by Abbas Kiarostami.
Even as archetypical “Anne” in Code Unknown, one of her least adorned performances, the tension of those supposed contradictions––generosity and narcissism, tidal emotion and awareness that she’s being watched––is both what animates her scenes and what gives them a critical edge.
Were Evangeline more sympathetic and self-aware, we might ask ourselves how our enjoyment of Howard is so different from hers of Madeline, and how our continued appetite for performances of female psychological fracture fits into a history of condescension and exploitation.
Not only is it very difficult to isolate the formal elements of a performance, but it is also very difficult to isolate what makes a particular performance or performer look or feel better or even different from another without getting into extremely complex cultural codes and idioms.
This is a film, written and directed by a man—Olivier Assayas—about the relationship between the male auteur and the female performer, that begins with the death of one idealized version of the former and ends with the determined, if uneasy, triumph of the latter.