Friday, January 21, 2011

Martin Zandvliet's APPLAUSE makes a tardy but welcome theatrical debut

Appearing at the Toronto fest debut back in 2009 and making its New York debut just about one year ago, during the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual Film Comment Selects series, APPLAUSE, co-written (with Anders Frithiof August) and directed by Martin Zandvliet, is most important for bringing to better notice here in the states the work of a certain Danish actress of power-house talent and not inconsiderable beauty.

If you're familiar with the work of the versatile  Paprika Steen (Adam's Apples, Fear Me Not, Forty Shades of Blue) you'll probably want to see her in just about anything. With Applause Mr. Zandvliet, left, gives the lady (she's shown on the poster above and in photos below) one of her best roles -- as a famous actress, Thea Barfoed, at the pinnacle (maybe just past it) of her career who is, otherwise, falling apart. Divorced, drunk and seemingly an unfit mother, she happens to be currently playing the "Martha" role in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, and so life imitates art rather spectacularly here. Steen is blowsy, beautiful, angry, frightened, funny and fearsome -- and while, yes, this sounds clichéd (there's nothing here we've have not seen before), the actress never has a dishonest moment on screen.

Consequently she alternately beguiles and yanks us around with her, and we follow gladly. Venues includes everywhere from a visit with her ex and his current wife (the couple seem quite decent and undeserving of Thea's wrath), to therapy sessions, theater rehearsals/performances, and finally into a situation that, were Thea living here in the USA, might result in her complete undoing. Denmark is clearly a more forgiving nation.

Zandvliet make certain his movie is short, smart and -- considering the situation and Thea's state of mind -- surprisingly non-repetitive. Applause open today, Friday, January 21, in New York City at the Village East Cinema and in the Los Angeles area at both Laemmle and Edwards theaters.  Click the links for specific details.

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