Uninterested in seeing another film about an individuals suffering from some sort of addiction or another, I nearly skipped Applause and wrote it off as the same old same old but hearing raves for Paprika Steen’s performance and with little else to choose from, I gave the film a chance. Though it didn’t provide anything we haven’t seen before (addict struggling to stay clean and keep her life in order), Martin Zandvliet’s film does provide something which is a little rarer, a powerful performance that is memorable well after walking away from the film.
Thea is an ageing stage actress at the top of her game. She’s also an alcoholic and though on the surface she plays the part of the recovering addict even going as far as attending AA meetings, she keeps a tab at her local pub and a fridge full of hard liquor. Ready to make a real change and get her children back, she cleans up her act but life is never quite as easy as one hopes and when faced with a major hurdle, she falls back on old ways. Not exactly new but that’s not to say that Zandliet’s film is poorly constructed. On the contrary, it’s a beautiful film with a smart script which inter-cuts Thea’s on-stage performance as an alcoholic with her life which is falling apart.
Even with a good script and Zandliet’s direction, the film’s real gem is Paprika Steen’s award winning performance. She’s raw, emotional and powerful in a role which pits her as an unlikable character. At the hands of a less talented actress the film would have been a forgettable run of the mill drama but Steen’s performance is anything but mediocre.
See VIFF screening schedule for show times.