what i watched
power and the lack of same

film fatales #62: a woman, a part (elisabeth subrin, 2016)

This is the sixth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is out of order ... I already watched the Week 5 movie, Craig's Wife. This is from Week 31, because it won't be available to stream after the 11th. Week 31 is called "Contemporary Women Directors Week":

Last Season Challenge, there was a weekly challenge that focused on women directors pre-1960's. But this year, I thought we should focus on the women creating films today. Its no real secret that the film industry has not offered a lot of opportunity to women, though that seems to be slowly changing. So, in order to support these women currently creating films, we're gonna spend this week watching films directed by them. And hopefully someday there won't be such a divide in the industry that we won't need to push for more women helmed films, it'll just be happening already.

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film directed by a woman released in 2010 or later.

This is writer/director Elisabeth Subrin's first feature, although she has been making independent shorts for more than 20 years. Her experience means A Woman, A Part is missing the "first time out" problems that sometimes plague first features. This is a confident movie ... you never get the feeling Subrin isn't sure of what she's up to. I haven't seen her shorts, so I don't know how A Woman, A Part fits into her past work, but she offers an easy coherence to her story of a successful television actor, Anna, suffering from burn-out, and her attempt to get back to her roots in theater. The cast features several actors I know best from television: Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men), Cara Seymour (The Knick), John Ortiz (Luck), Khandi Alexander (The Corner, Treme). They are all great, which comes as no surprise. It's nice to see Siff in a leading role ... she's in virtually every scene, and she plays her part with a complicated balance of the character's uncertain neurosis about her profession and Siff's certain ability to make the most of this meaty part.

Subrin keeps things moving, and I suspect editor Jennifer Ruff has something to do with that. The film suffers from the dreariness of its main character ... Anna is mopey at times, she's coming off an auto-immune disease, she's abusing drugs, and she's not sure what she wants for her future. It's hard to complain, though. To properly give us Anna, Subrin knows she has to avoid any flashiness we might associate with a TV star. And Siff is so good, she gets us through the slower segments.

(Explanation of the Film Fatales Series.)

Comments

Arthur

I'm sure there's a library full of books and tens of thousands of hours' worth of film written by and about the struggles of folks at various levels of the entertainment industry and I, honestly, haven't wanted to consume any of it for the past decade, I'd say. It's an odd kind-of paradox that a profession that can demand such intense navel-gazing can then instill a real disdain towards seeing oneself or ones one knows reflected back. Various levels of fear, jealousy, and resentment can all start to simmer. Gosh, I could go on forever. It's actually a really fascinating topic. I just wish it didn't get me so riled up.

Steven Rubio

Thanks for the reply ... as I said on Twitter, I thought of you. To be honest, I mostly thought "Arthur isn't fucked up like these people". One thing that worked well in this movie is that Maggie Siff was perfect for the part. I don't mean she as a person is like that character ... obviously I don't know her. But she has always been great at portraying intelligent, intense characters, and this is one of those.

It occurs to me as I write this, probably my favorite movie that features this milieu is Next Stop, Greenwich Village. Or All About Eve :-).

Arthur

Haha, give it time! I'm still working towards that series regular gig that'll fuck me up!

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