Cate Blanchett has been nominated seven times for Oscars, winning two of them, most recently for Blue Jasmine. But that was easy. Those movies only required her to play one character. In Manifesto, which is set to hit Sundance next week, she's being asked to play thirteen characters. Try that on for size, Meryl Streep.
Directed by Julian Rosefeldt, the film began as a 130-minute art installation project. It ran in Australia a couple of years ago and in Berlin, but is only now making its way stateside, cut down to a 90-minute version that finds Blanchett as a schoolteacher, homeless person, and more, spouting dialogue taken from famous artist manifestos. Here's the synopsis:
Tour-de-force: a term so overused that we need an undeniable acting performance to renew its meaning for cinema. Cate Blanchett has just given us one, going all-out in Manifesto. Already respected as one of the best actresses in film, Blanchett raises the bar even higher by playing 13 different roles in Manifesto, embodying some of the most influential and emotional artist manifestos in history.
The architect of this unique film idea is director Julian Rosefeldt, a veteran of intricate films and installations. In Manifesto, he uses the words from various twentieth century manifestos of artists, architects, and filmmakers for dialogue. With a gorgeous production and luscious cinematography that would make Baz Luhrmann proud, Rosefeldt puts Blanchett in the everyday world — as a housewife, a factory worker, or a TV anchor — declaring the words that have inspired whole art movements. Manifesto is entertaining while also asking us to question if these passionate statements still hold true and inspire us today.
Manifesto hits Park City next week and hopefully will find distribution soon after.