The prospect of Cate Blanchett playing 13 different characters is enough of a hook, but in order to get the most out of Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto, one must be in the mood for somewhat lengthy monologues on art.
A thespian’s dream, the film is cinematically impressive as well, full of striking Berlin scenery and elegant camera movements, following the Oscar-winning actress as she convincingly becomes a broker, conservative mother, manager, eulogist, punk rocker, dance choreographer, teacher, factory worker, newsreader, reporter, puppeteer, scientist and even a homeless man.
More than the average film, however, viewers have to listen extremely closely to what she says since the melding of the above assets frequently proves challenging. The visuals don’t always tonally match the words — reworked or ver batim from famous titular documents — so it’s imperative to zero in on the dialogue and not let the mind wander in the slightest.
Such focus will be rewarded as diverse glee stems from one of if not the strangest dinner table blessings of all time and the inspired reading of the Dogme 95’s film movement’s founding tenets to a class of elementary schoolers under the guise of Blanchett walking around the room and examining everyone’s work.
Not every pairing of sights and sounds in Manifesto is as brilliant as those two examples, but the immediate and cumulative appeal of Blanchett’s and Rosefeldt’s boundary-pushing collaboration are difficult for those who appreciate, well, art to deny.
Those not on board should prepare to get a loud rant from the star’s homeless man persona.
Grade: B-plus. Not rated but with adult language and themes. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse