Successful network TV actress, Anna Baskin (Maggie Siff), 44, has recently regained her health after suffering from an unspecified autoimmune disease. But the recovery is only partial–while her body has healed, she’s flailing emotionally, and exhausted, questioning her career and other life choices.
Writer and director Elisabeth Subrin’s “A Woman, A Part” is a quietly effective study of sadness, regret and acceptance. Anna, propped up by Ritalin and Wellbutrin, is no longer sustained by the work she coveted. She tells her supportive agent, Leslie Barrett (Khandi Alexander), that because she isn’t being heard on any of her hit show’s creative decisions, she feels like she’s just “phoning it in.” In her honeyed voice, Leslie answers that “sooner or later, everyone does (that).”
While her show is on break, Anna leaves Los Angeles (and the big house filled with unpacked boxes) and returns to her small garden apartment in Brooklyn, and the theater friends, Kate Mullen (Cara Seymour) and Isaac Jones (John Ortiz), who were so important to her both personally and professionally when she first started to act in the downtown theater scene of the 90s.
Home has changed. Cranes are silhouetted against the sky, dangling from unfinished upscale buildings. Kate, now sober, has given up acting and is losing her book-filled apartment to gentrification. Isaac’s recent plays haven’t found an audience, contributing to the shakiness in his marriage. Advising Isaac to take his wife on a real date, Anna offers to babysit their daughter. And in his office she finds “Life, Still,” his new script, whose main character is her dopplegänger, with her neuroses and strengths. Feeling too revealed, she angrily flees when Isaac and Jude return.
A very brief fling with a young contractor (who she erroneously believes doesn’t know who she is) lets her try on another persona. But renewing her friendships is love medicine. Recognizing what Kate and Isaac need (better than they do), and able to quietly provide it, helps Anna fit back into her life and work in Los Angeles.
“A Woman, A Part” will open on Wednesday, March 22 at IFC Center. There will be a Q&A at 7:30 pm show with Elisabeth Subrin, Cara Seymour, and other cast members, moderated by director and actress Erica Fae (“To Keep the Light”). On Thursday, March 23 there will be a Q&A at the 7:30 pm show with Elisabeth Subrin, producer Shrihari Sathe and editor Jennifer Ruff, moderated by Destiny Lilly. At the 8:10 pm show on both Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, there will be a Q&A with Elisabeth Subrin and Shrihari Sathe. The film opens in the LA area on Friday, April 14.