Manifesto is a two hour testing reel for Cate Blanchett proving that she can act while staring at the camera and reading manifestos of famous philosophers.
Director: Julian Rosefeldt
Summary: Cate Blanchett performs manifestos as a series of striking monologues.
While A Ghost Story feels very much like the type of gem that is found at film festivals, Manifesto is one of those notorious film school, pretentious kind of dreck that you’re supposed to love if you care about ‘film as art’, even if the final product is terrible. There is no doubt that there will be people defending Manifesto by saying that it’s art or that you’re too stupid to understand what the director was going for, but that isn’t true. There are ways to create art and still be entertaining. There is no reason for an art movie to not only be boring, but also annoyingly preachy. This is not so much a movie, but a statement of how art should be viewed, repeat ad nauseam.
There is no doubt that Cate Blanchett, the only real star in this movie, is a great actress, as she plays thirteen different characters. This feels less like a movie but more like an acting reel that someone would put together to show off their range. The problem is we know who Blanchett is and we know she can act. This isn’t a newcomer sweeping in to prove that he or she can act, but an Oscar winning actress with years of work behind her. It’s a two hour acting reel that repeats over and over again how art can only be attained by tearing down the system, and eliminating museums would be pretentious on a good day and snobby on a bad one.
The only stand-out moments are the occasional spots of unintentional humor, such as Blanchett repeating this manifesto as a southern mother saying grace over the dinner table, or while delivering a eulogy at a funeral. These moments don’t feel like they are trying to be funny, but the clash between the words and the person delivering them is hilarious to watch because you can’t believe how seriously they are taking this entire production. There are no stories being told within these manifestos, and they all jump around so much that it becomes impossible to follow anything.
Manifesto is the movie equivalent of an acting reel that someone would post on Youtube to show that they can act, told by an actress that doesn’t need to do that. It’s two hours you will never get back no matter how “arty” the movie thinks it is.