Madeline’s Madeline
(Josephine Decker)

 Helena Howard in a scene from Josephine Decker’s  Madeline’s Madeline  {Photo: Oscilloscope}

Helena Howard in a scene from Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline {Photo: Oscilloscope}

It still baffles me that Josephine Decker’s astonishing Madeline’s Madeline was picked up for distribution. I invite you to imagine what it would look like to see a feature film by Stan Brakhage opening on multiple screens at your local art house. This would be a modern equivalent, as Decker’s film possesses a similar kind of spontaneous, frequently discomforting, energy that I tend to associate with Brakhage. The prevailing sentiment is one of submergence, where watching Madeline’s Madeline frequently feels like you’re drowning, attempting to catch your breath. And like Brakhage’s Window Water Baby Moving, brief interludes of sunlight give you that warped hope that you’re making sense of the picture before it disorients and betrays you once again. Part of what makes the film so compulsively watchable is Helena Howard’s lead performance, along with her remarkable repartee with Miranda July. There’s not a film released this year, and frankly, most years, that is this unsettling yet empathetic, this emotionally-fraught yet warm.  

Highly Recommended