Actress is a 2014 documentary that just became available to stream on Netflix. Watch it here.
Films like Actress baffle me whenever I see them. Whilst I will never want to be that person who tells someone who took their time and energy to make a movie that it was poorly spent I wonder.
Actress is a film about Brandy Burre, who had a recurring role on The Wire. Currently a mother of two and after taking a long hiatus from the world of acting wants to return. While that’s the general gist of the film it feels almost tangential to the film’s content itself to call that a synopsis. This movie quickly becomes an almost snapshot of Burre’s life in the moment, and that’s the problem.
Many people have told me that this concept of a film being about a person going through regular motions that we all do is boring. The idea of watching a true story is not engaging, because in the real world it’s just filled with monotony and cliche things that we all already experience and don’t feel enthused to experience on the screen. This film falls so quickly into that trapping that I question the trap itself.
We are to sit down and watch as Burre’s life breaks itself in half with her relationship with the father of her children falls on hard times and she finds it difficult to find work at her age, or at the very least we’re not seeing the true end product of her attempt to re-enter acting. The film drags us kicking and screaming into these situations of awkwardness as we watch her go from playing with her children to not being there on her daughter’s birthday and being out trying to do a show. Then we’re back at home where she talks to us directly telling us how troubled it all is. It’s almost like a parody of The Real World and she’s doing these confessionals. However, we just sit there wondering why?
Why is she confessing these things to us? How does this serve the film’s thesis? Why are we watching her life fall apart? Does this film have a thesis? These are the questions that flow through my mind watching this film and I can’t answer them.
This film feels like as if Burre was privately filming her life for her own personal reasons, someone found them, edited it together to be an uninteresting narrative, and there it is. Nothing else, nothing more.