A Woman, a Part Screen 78 of 9 reviews

A Woman, a Part

2016

A Woman, a Part Poster
  • You might expect a figure from the avant-garde to bring an experimental sensibility to bear on a fiction feature, but A Woman, a Part is quite straightforward... Subrin proves a gifted director of actors, and the film, in its small-scale theatrical vigor, is an excellent showcase for its leads.

  • A Woman, A Part testified to the expansive complexity that can be generated out of a restricted set of parameters when expertly executed... If this sounds like Cassavetes redux, think again: With none of the penchant for hysterics characteristic of the misogynist/genius (to echo Le Tigre), Subrin communicates love for the strength and resilience of her characters despite—or because of—their deep flaws, following them as they navigate changing lives, changing technologies, and a changing city.

  • While Subrin uses a handheld camera with the same frequency most indie directors do, she tends to keep her characters in a middle distance and she keeps her color palette consistently cool. It’s a way of bringing some space, a useful detachment, to bear on subjects that are plainly very important to her. The discipline pays off; “A Woman, a Part” mixes passion and ambivalence to create a work with ambiguities that seem earned, and lived in.

  • Touching on issues of artistic survival and the porous boundary between work and pleasure, Ms. Subrin, an accomplished visual artist and filmmaker, sifts addiction, celebrity and the plight of the aging actress into something rarefied yet real. A strong, intelligent screen presence, Ms. Siff can make the simplest line feel pregnant with possibility. And Ms. Seymour is the perfect counterpoint, giving Kate a warm vulnerability that’s never overplayed or milked for sentiment.

  • For her feature debut, Subrin forsakes the experimentalism of her short films and video installations for a relatively conventional narrative and storytelling grammar. No matter: A Woman, A Part is compelling all the same.

  • With a simultaneous dose of compassion and bluntness, Subrin delivers a less cheerful story about mid-life crisis than we are used to in recent films. Instead of showing how great life can be after putting the past aside, she points out that a person changes as relations with those dear to them are redefined.

  • A smart if underpowered New York drama about a fortysomething actress’s self-perception (played with precision and poignancy by Maggie Siff).

  • Subrin's screenplay ultimately hinges on that tired trope by which one character's travails are controversially fictionalized by another: Anna is distraught when she learns that blocked-writer Isaac's current project draws heavily on her previous Manhattan incarnation. Thankfully, things don't work out in the way we're led to expect, a quietly moving and satisfying finale seeing Seymour's Kate stepping hesitantly from sidelines to center stage.

  • In a screenplay overrun with concerns of artistic purity and staying true to oneself, the film finds no space to thematize wealth as a source of Anna's supposed betrayal beyond Kate's vague assertions of her selling out. Throughout its running time, A Woman, A Part never shirks the sense that its scenes have been plucked from numerous other films about the difficulty of going home again.

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