It goes without saying that Cate Blanchett is one of the titans of modern cinema. But apparently, this titan won’t be satisfied until she’s scaled Mount Olympus and joined the ranks of the acting gods. Her latest project, Manifesto, just might have brought her to her destination.
A new trailer for the installation-turned-film (Manifesto was showcased in Australia, Berlin, and New York as a museum piece, but will make a theatrical debut at Sundance) has dropped, and the results suggest nothing less than an actorly achievement of Herculean proportions. Helmed by Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto is a one-woman show, except it’s a 13-character work, with Blanchett navigating roles as varied as a bedraggled, bearded homeless man, a newscaster adorned with mannequin-esque poise, and a snarly junkie-type with jet-black hair. From the two-minute trailer alone, it is clear how fully Blanchett embodies each character and, by extension, how tremendous a task it must have been to transition between them all.
Blanchett isn’t the only actor to have recently played multiple roles within the same work. In this decade alone, Denis Lavant and Tatiana Maslany have pulled off similarly virtuosic feats to wide acclaim, the former for Holy Motors and the latter for Orphan Black. Still, virtuosity is mere empty skill unless it exists in service of a vision, and the trailer suggests that Manifesto has lofty ideas in its sightline. When Blanchett shapeshifts, she does so while reciting manifestos from various artists and filmmakers, which charge her various performances with the content and context of the original texts. And yet, neither does Manifesto seem to be merely an expression of these texts, given the work’s obvious, self-conscious performativity.
Check out the full mesmerizing trailer above.