Contemporary artist Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto, in which Cate Blanchett, playing multiple characters, is the main attraction, gets a theatrical release in a feature format.
Originally, Manifesto is a video installation. It introduces thirteen different characters, all portrayed by Blanchett. They are to be played simultaneously in the exhibit form. All characters are on a mission statement about Art and freedom. We get some beautiful shot with a sense for motion. We get Cate Blanchett times thirteen. We get the timeless, endless debates about Art and its purpose in society.
In the feature mode (sitting in a theatre for 90 minutes with the editing mainly on the narrative mode), Manifesto if far from being convincing. The conversion of Blanchett into various characters may be appealing at first but she is not as exceptional (especially with accents) as we would like to believe when we get quantity from a much appreciated actress. It is understood, of course, the makers are partially into caricature, but the film medium being often about scrutiny (of details) and make believe, Manifesto partly looses its potential power within that context.
Nothing is new claims a fictional protagonist right from the beginning. This statement allows Rosefeldt to repeat various discourses (on Art) we hear for decades. Nothing new. Manifesto will draw the attention of some patrons interested in contemporary art and be especially irritating to others.
Manifesto is definitely an object of curiosity that belongs to a museum.
***For Montrealers, the film starts today at Cinéma du Parc