Any film that delves into mental illness as its primary storytelling directive has a large plate to fill, as such a subject is rife with distinct intricacies that only those who go through said illnesses understand; in other words, to accurately portray mental illness on-screen, you either have to know from personal experience or by studying it. Madeline’s Madeline feels like a film that really, truly, deeply knows all about mental illness.
Madeline’s Madeline is the story of a young aspiring actress with a fair share of problems in her life; constantly battling between the voice in her head and the voices around her.
This film took great care in appropriately portraying what it feels like to battle with instability in your own head, from the passing mood swings to the insurmountable sudden weight of dread. Madeline is a character that is exposed to extreme emotional swings from her heavy symptoms of multiple mental illnesses. These illnesses seep into her life, affecting her social interactions, relationships, and her progress as a person. This is a film about somebody who is struggling to express how confusing it is to live in her own head, so she does it through her passion; acting.
The performance by actress Helena Howard was superbly convincing, despite being such a new talent she shows that she is capable of range for a multiple array of emotions in just a single character. From her almost split personality to her realistic conversations, it all felt so scarily real and the conversations, scarily familiar. Molly Parker plays the role of Madeline acting teacher for her plays, and provides a solid performance that certainly keeps you guessing about her intentions.
This film is very hypnotic in its own way; it feels as though the entire film is shot from Madeline’s first person perspective, you almost feel heavily sedated experiencing this film. The use of shallow-focus shots and spinning camera-work gives us a sense of delirium, something that accurately portrays the same feelings the Madeline herself is going through.
Madeline’s Madeline shows an interesting perspective, almost giving a glimpse into part of the crazy world that so many people suffer through. Peering into the mind of the confused and upside down world of those with mental instability, Madeline’s Madeline is an ode to those that struggle to overcome and adapt in a world with so much noise.