Applause and Upperdog

Applause is definitely a Danish film. It stars Paprika Steen as an alcoholic actress starring in a stage performance of (apparently) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She’s not very patient with the “normal people” around her, chewing out her assistant for not leaving her red lipstick out, even after it becomes obvious that she did.

The real-life drama is that she’s divorced, doesn’t have custody, and hasn’t seen her two young sons for many months. Her star power doesn’t work so well in that realm.

The film doesn’t follow any standard structure, at least that I could discern. Despite of that, or perhaps partly because of it, I was glad I saw it. The performances were all excellent, especially by Steen. The look is grainy and desaturated. I’ll give it a strong  out of .

Upperdog is a Norwegian film, created in the many inter-related characters style. There’s a soldier who fired on an oncoming car, killing an innocent victim, and a news photographer who got an iconic image of him. There’s a Polish maid visiting and working for her friend. There’s a man who tested his girlfriend’s fidelity. I won’t reveal the all the connections, but one key one felt too improbable for me to suspend my disbelief.

From looking several of the actors up on IMDb, it appears that most but not all of the primary actors here are first time film actors. While none of them was great, I was surprised by that. The actress who played the Polish maid has more experience, and in fact she was in Warsaw, which I saw at an earlier Cinequest.  And the same writer/director also made Kissed by Winter, which I saw at an earlier Cinequest and liked better than this film.

Overall, I found the film to be a mix of good scenes and so-so scenes, connected by a script that strained my credibility. I’ll give it a weak out of .

Seen on 2/24/2010 at Cinequest.


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