xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
There’s Brandy Burre and there’s “Brandy Burre,” a distinction that becomes increasingly muddled throughout the course of the documentary “Actress.”
Actually, even calling “Actress” a documentary doesn’t feel entirely accurate. Certainly, director Robert Greene documents moments in the life of Burre, a mother of two who gave up her acting career and moved to the scenic Hudson River town of Beacon, New York, 70 miles north of Manhattan. They range from mundane (the daily hassles of getting her young son and daughter dressed and out the door in the morning) to monumental shifts (the disintegration of her longtime relationship with the children’s father, restaurateur Tim Reinke).
But complicating matters is the aesthetic Greene has chosen in following Burre as her restless spirit takes hold and inspires her to re-enter the industry. (As Burre’s next-door neighbor and friend, he’s had a front-row seat for the many changes that occurred in her life as she approached 40.) He alternates between intimate, unadorned domestic glimpses (Burre drinking red wine alone in sweats and a sloppy ponytail) and artful interludes in rich color and exquisite slow motion (water gushing from the kitchen faucet onto a sponge as she scrubs dishes).
He’s toying with us constantly—and with our perception of what is authentic—in ways that are both intriguing and frustrating. Burre is too; she seems to relish trying on the role of the bored, apron-ed housewife who’s straight out of a Douglas Sirk melodrama, but she can also be very direct, pragmatic and of-the-moment, as in her meticulous labeling of the kids’ toy bins. With her long, dark hair, deep-set eyes and strong cheekbones, she has an inherently dramatic presence about her. But she also talks to her kids like they’re little people rather than babies (including dropping an F-bomb in front of her then-3-year-old girl) and finds herself saying the sort of ridiculous things all mothers do. (“Eat the cereal. The cereal will heal your brain,” she tells her daughter who’s complaining of a headache.)