Considering she was nominated for an Oscar for her 2007 gender-switching portrayal of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, or the fact that she’s played everyone from Katharine Hepburn to Queen Elizabeth I, Cate Blanchett has proven herself quite the chameleon over the years. Given her history, it should surprise no-one that in artist and filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto—encoring at Nashville Film Festival at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 27—Blanchett plays 13 different characters.
A non-narrative piece, Manifesto (which made its NaFF debut Wednesday night) is a collage of 13 short films in which Blanchett embodies 13 different characters representing a variety of art styles and movements from Surrealism to Pop Art and everything in between. Within each characterization, Blanchett performs monologues addressing each movement’s platform with Blanchett’s monologues based on previously published ideas written by artists, performers, architects and other notables.
Originally presented as a video installation in Berlin, then New York City with each of the 13 different characters being presented on separate screens, with the idea that the audience would move back and forth among the screens catching snippets of the work. Keeping that same feel, the film cuts from character to character, returning time and time again to each one.
Among the 13 characters, Blanchett appears as a school teacher, a news presenter, a scientist, a choreographer, a stockbroker, a sanitation worker, a eulogist, a punk, an ultra conservative mom, a homeless man, a CEO and more. With each character comes the expected hair, makeup and wardrobe to visually push the illusion, but as has come to be a trademark of Blanchett’s skills, each role is pushed to the max with stylized mannerisms, movement, affectations and a variety of accents.
While the subjects covered in Blanchett’s monologues do indeed focus on art and various artist movements, it’s not just an art film, with Blanchett’s remarkable transformations, it’s a study in characterization and the nuances of individuality.
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