A Woman, a Part (NR)

Drama 97 min. March 17, 2017
By Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
The meta-narrative of Maggie Siff playing a fatigued television actress won't be lost on keen TV watchers, who will surely recognize the actress from Mad Men (as Rachel Menken) or Sons of Anarchy (as Tara Knowles). In writer/director Elisabeth Subrin's debut feature, Siff steps into a lead role as Anna, a woman on the verge of breaking her TV contract. Early scenes set the tone for Anna's career frustrations. She's seen arguing with her producer and agent -- over the phone, in person -- about her character's lack of depth and, even worse, her lack of passion. She decides to take time off from L.A. to reconnect with her old New York theater circle, in which she's considered a sell-out.

Siff gives a modest but poignant performance that rings true for women of a certain age and career. Subrin is an award-winning experimental filmmaker, so it's curious that her narrative feature, while impressive, is so stylistically conventional. Though the story doesn't take all the predictable routes, the film often relies too heavily on unimaginative cues. A woman going through an existential, mid-life crisis, of course, has disheveled hair, a graphic t-shirt pulled out of storage, packed up boxes, a line of coke next to a stack of scripts, and a pair of scissors (yes, there is a bang-cutting scene). At one point, a fed-up Anna asks her TV producer who her character really is, but the same could perhaps be asked of Subrin. It's all helped by a strong supporting cast, including Cara Seymour and John Ortiz.
Elisabeth Subrin Maggie Siff, Dagmara Dominczyk, Khandi Alexander, John Ortiz, Cara Seymour, Ana Kayne Elisabeth Subrin Strand Releasing

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