When I think of Cate Blanchett’s extraordinary acting talents, I think of the 2007 Academy Awards, when she was nominated for two completely different performances: as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth, and as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There.
If performances like those don’t have you convinced of Blanchett’s talents, Julian Rosefeldt’s new film Manifesto will. In the film, Blanchett transforms into 13 different characters of different genders, ages, and nationalities. In various scenes, she’s a drunk old homeless man; a prim housewife; a cooler-than-thou punk; two newscasters in conversation with each other; and a puppeteer with a puppet version of herself.
In each scene, Blanchett recites some sort of manifesto about art and life. Rosefeldt drew on writings of Futurists, Dadaists, and other artists for these, but he says the words themselves aren’t what’s important. “The main idea for Manifesto was not to illustrate the particular manifesto texts, but rather to allow Cate to embody the manifestos. She is the manifesto,” Rosefeldt writes in the press notes.
But all this means that the film, as a film, isn’t very watchable: You’re basically listening to Cate Blanchett recite various speeches for an hour and a half. Some scenes are visually beautiful, and Blanchett is of course brilliant, but unless you’re deep into art theory or a Cate Blanchett completist, I’d advise rewatching Elizabeth, or I’m Not There, or both, instead.
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