With a pair of celebrated features a few years back (Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, Butter on the Latch), Josephine Decker is finally returning with a new first narrative feature with Madeline’s Madeline, one of our most-anticipated premieres of Sundance. Sporting the best logline of the festival (Madeline got the part! She’s going to play the lead in a theater piece! Except the lead wears sweatpants like Madeline’s. And has a cat like Madeline’s. And is holding a steaming hot iron next to her mother’s face – like Madeline is.), the film is a drama of boundless spontaneity as Decker deftly examines mental illness and the potentially exploitative lines a performer may cross when pulling life into art.
Ahead of a premiere this Monday at Sundance, we’re pleased to exclusively premiere the poster and a new image. The story follows Madeline (Helena Howard, in an incredibly assured breakthrough performance) as she navigates her overprotective mother (Miranda July) and complex relationship with her theater director (Molly Parker). With its handmade quality, the poster evocatively echoes Decker’s energetic approach and the shifting psychological headspace the film places the viewer in.
See Decker discuss her NEXT selection below, followed by our poster premiere, for the film also starring Okwui Okpokwasili, Felipe Bonilla, and Lisa Tharps.
Madeline is dedicated to her theatre workshop. Much to the worry of her protective mother (Miranda July), she has become an integral part of a prestigious, progressive, and experimental theatre troupe in the city, one that emphasizes movement, commitment, and an intense focus on authenticity. When the workshop’s ambitious theater director (Molly Parker) pushes teenage Madeline to weave her troubled history and rich interior world into their collective art, the lines between performance and reality begin to blur in surprising and potentially destructive ways, spiraling out of the safe rehearsal space and into her everyday interactions.
Writer/director Josephine Decker has long been an independent filmmaker to admire, utilizing a welcome expressionistic approach that imbues her subjects with a vibrant sense of urgency. Anchored by a virtuoso performance from newcomer Helena Howard, whose powerful screen presence commands attention, Decker’s vital exploration of the thin lines between illness and artistry displays a rare sensitivity for capturing the messy struggles of discovering a sense of one’s self that defies easy narrative categorization.