[Film Review] Glow Yellow – Madeleine (2015) by Ollie Verschoyle
In brief: A delightful and hypnotic trip to the non-literary side of filmmaking.
Watch the film here: https://vimeo.com/318805466
Let me be clear: motion pictures have no rules. Well, except that they move in some fashion, I guess. Aspiring filmmakers often turn to screenwriting books to teach them how to tell stories. Many of them are filled with good advice based on robust historical evidence. The books say, “This film evoked Greek tragedy, and it won the Oscar; that film ambled for two hours and then erupted into an orgy of destruction, and it wowed Cannes.” If you want to make a movie, the authors insist, go and do likewise. Forms and functions demand iteration and obedience.
But movies can do anything. As long as they move. Madeleine, Ollie Verschoyle’s tense and whimsical short film, makes its own rules. It’s a distinctive experience, full of life, texture, color, and hypnotic sound. It’s less a narrative than a moment. Verschoyle’s film is closest in style and feel to the gentler works of David Lynch, or Shane Carruth’s arthouse science fiction masterpiece Upstream Color. Verschoyle’s objective is to induce a unique state of mind, and the conventions of traditional narrative filmmaking just won’t do. But that doesn’t mean Madeleine is antagonistic to the audience. No, it’s quite charming, with a gentle portrayal of American small town life that sits comfortably beside Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
As in Lynch’s small town mystery series, the woods in Madeleine are full of danger, or at least the spirit of it. The film’s blend of fear and wonder is amoral, like nature herself. The same beautiful landscape you admire today could kill you tomorrow. Both are natural. They’re both right outside your front door, and encroaching on your memory, written in feelings beyond words. By eschewing conventional narrative, Madeleine speaks a language older than literature, placing its contemporary small town world in an ancient dreamtime continuity. It’s pure filmmaking; no other medium can do what Madeleine does, in quite the way it does it. Madeleine rules, because it plays by its own.