Saturday, November 08, 2014

“Actress”– Movie Review



This week at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center, I attended the opening night screening of the new documentary “Actress” starring Brandy Burre.


Following a hiatus to start a family, an actress attempts to resume her career – but when personal problems arise, will they hamper her efforts?


Arguably, Brandy Burre’s big break as an actress came when she appeared on the noted HBO television series “The Wire”; prior to that, most of her résumé included theater work.  Once that ended, she decided to take time off from her career in order to start a family with her partner, Tim.  Together, they wound up moving to the New York City suburban community of Beacon, New York where they purchased a house and had a son and daughter; additionally, they also co-own a pair of restaurants in the area.  All seems well for the first few years until Brandy begins to get the itch to act once again. 

As Brandy seeks auditions and sings at New York City cabarets, she senses Tim’s lack of support in this endeavor and feels he may be withdrawing; she then becomes romantically involved with Chris while she continues to live with Tim and raise their children as Tim focuses on running his businesses – all the while, completely oblivious to the fact that Brandy has a little something on the side.  Brandy admits that she and Tim did not know each other for a very long time before they decided to settle down; she became pregnant after they were seeing each other for about three months, confessing that she wasn’t terribly well thought out when it came to the matter of family planning. 

Eventually, Tim discovers Brandy’s secret and is understandably furious; he moves out of their house and rents a small apartment in town.  Although he occasionally comes by their house to perform routine maintenance and keep an eye on the kids while Brandy is otherwise occupied, the couple have worked out at least a temporary joint custody agreement, where she drops off their children at Tim’s place for overnight stays.  While all of this turmoil plays itself out, Brandy remains committed to finding acting work of almost any kind.  But will she be able to step back into her career after such a long time away from acting and all of the distractions in her family life?     


Are we being hoodwinked here?  Is “Actress” truly a documentary?  Or is this just the next manipulative and opportunistic step by Brandy Burre in some kind of pathetic attempt to jump-start a stalled career?  It would seem that the events of this documentary may be true, but given the degree of attention this film has been receiving, Burre’s scheme – if indeed it is that – seems to be working.  Ultimately, an actress (or actor) is always performing – and that is especially true when there is a camera being pointed at him or her. 

While much of the documentary covers some of the more mundane aspects of Burre’s life – cleaning and traveling to auditions – there is also a great deal of footage captured of her talking directly to the camera; in these monologues (soliloquies?), she is provided an opportunity to give her side of the story.  On the other hand, Tim, her former partner, has no such scenes, despite the fact that he obviously consented to appear in this film.  Why is he not interviewed?  Well, perhaps because he’s not an actor and as a result, is less dramatically compelling on camera and has less of a presence.  Or perhaps it is because the filmmaker only wanted to present one side of the story. 

Following the screening, there was a question-and-answer session with Burre and the documentary’s director  Robert Greene.  Greene said that he shot for a period of about three to four months and ultimately acquired somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 hours of footage which he eventually edited down to this hour-and-a-half documentary.  He added that none of those who appeared in his documentary signed a release form; Greene claims he chose to go that route because since he was friends with Brandy and Tim, he always wanted to give them the chance to back-out of the situation at any time. 


Actress (2014) on IMDb

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