You can see Josephine Doe at the Camera 12 in San Jose on Saturday March 5th at 5pm, on Monday March 7th at 930pm, and Friday March 11th at 445pm!
You make impressions by being striking from the first moment. If you can walk away from the first 30 seconds of a movie and know exactly why you're going to be writing a positive review, the filmmaker has done something extraordinary. In Josephine Doe, we are treated to a moment that moved me hard - a sign that says Do Not Touch, being touched. That alone would have kept me watching, but the undeniable power of the cinematography, glorious black-and-white, the marvelous acting, with the script that moved perfectly to highlight the path a character takes towards... well, that's the thing, innit? What are characters moving towards is what defines all but the most abstract of films, right?
Claire is on less of a journey than going through a series of self-diagnostics. She's running checks on how her code has been developed, and finding faults, flaws, flat-out errors. She makes a friend, Josephine, who is, in some ways, the path of least resistance. She seems confident, ready, willing, and able to make her impulses come to life. A magnificent scene where the pair breaks into an empty roller skating rink and enjoy themselves. There is so much joy in the scene, and when it all comes crashing down, it's not with a hail of bullets, or any emotion at all really, it's the quiet standing silence with seething bitterness underneath.
It also reveals the central matter with the film - Claire may have issues. Or she might not. It's awkward.
The themes are powerful - family issues, mental health questions, how we pass through the end-stop grief, and how we manage the on-going grief and the difficulties of making things work long-run. Josephine isn't who or what she seems, but neither is Claire, and that fact alone is disturbing. We see illusions shattered throughout the film, both within our characters, and in their views on the world. This can be a tricky thing to make work as an actor, but in the capable hands of Erin Cippoletti, Claire is a remarkable performance. The natural inclination is to wallow, to play the depression as withdrawn, the darkness as instability. She avoids that, and beautifully, instead giving us something more akin to reality within a world where we're not sure what is helpful fantasy and what might be harmful fantasy.
As Josephine, a role that could fall anywhere between Tyler Durden to Drop Dead Fred, we have the electric Emma Griffin. She does so well, and I was drawn to her reactions to the existence of her own questionable existence. When the natural comparisons arise between Josephine and so many other examples of similar characters, I see the difference immediately - she's not the answer, but instead, she is the central question of Josephine Doe itself.
Maybe that's why they named the movie after her...
You can find out more at http://www.josephinedoe.com
Klaus at Gunpoint
A Film Journal dedicated to all film.A segment of Office Supply Publishing.