- READER REVIEWS
(No longer in theaters)
First Blue Valentine, now, from Denmark, Applause: In less than a month I’ve had to endure two intense psychodramas in which the jittery, handheld camera hovers dermatologist-close to actors’ faces beset by seismic waves of grief and rage. Both have a certain too-muchness, but both, in the end, give you something to see. In Applause, it’s the amazingly named Paprika Steen, who looks like Natasha Richardson if she’d lived longer and much, much harder. Steen is Thea, an alcoholic leading actress appearing onstage as Martha in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? while, offstage, slowly waking up from the nightmare that has been her life. Her ex-husband remarried her opposite number—an unhistrionic psychologist—and she hasn’t seen her young sons in a couple of years. Now she wants them back. Over and over she insists, “I’ve changed”—a line that’s a reliable indicator of someone who hasn’t. Director Martin Pieter Zandvliet cuts in snatches of the Albee play with metronomic regularity—but with an actress this magnificent the scaffolding barely shows. Steen draws a fluid line between Thea-as-Martha and Thea in the “real” world, putting on make-up, pretending to be something she isn’t, trying to achieve some measure of autonomy in the grip of an ungovernable ego. As much of her as there is, you’ll want more.