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Caitlin Plays Herself

This enigmatic, melancholy romance pits a Chicago-based filmmaker (Joe Swanberg) against a performance artist (Caitlin Stainken) in a tender yet impossible relationship. His work is centrifugal—he has to travel, both to make and to present his films; hers, centripetal, is focussed on a small playhouse where she has a steady gig doing autobiographical productions in which she plays herself. Their tensions are kept mainly below the surface of Swanberg’s long, contemplative, and evocatively composed shots, which tease strident contrasts from casual settings. The frustrations of the couple’s personal disconnections arise from their creative differences, suggesting an allegory of the mutual dependence—and incompatibility—of theatre and cinema, of the symbolic and the documentary, of the created and the found. Much of the drama emerges through the interstices of the tensely unfolding scenes of emotional writhing and indecision; the sixty-nine-minute sketchbook implies a novelistic amplitude of experience.

1h 9m
United States
Joe Swanberg

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