3.5 It was really working until the bloody confrontation. I felt like the filmmaker was really showing us something about actresses, and a certain culture of women in our society and their social death, the filmmaking choices were bold and felt very fresh but post confrontation it hit genre cliches of the post Persona/Mulholland Drive storytelling style and it lost itself. But it was a good picture overall.
Always Shine earns credit for achieving the pseudo-horror tone in an ultimately effective way; the two-shot and one-shot cinematography is repetitive for the sake of achieving this tone, which is noticed, but not particularly annoying. Where the film as a whole falls flat to me is the sheer triteness of the subject matter. The seeds of jealousy, vanity, etc. in this context could've been used more inventively.
While the plot is a little too on the nose in some moments and scenes, seeing both frenemies unravel was pretty exciting and the outcome remained unpredictable until de very end. A sleek thriller with great work by both lead actresses, where the edition work also stands out.
A contemporaneous riff on All About Eve and Single White Female. It would have been great if not for the usual tropes and beats. With these actors I would have wanted a more daring story. Something that gets deeper into the feminine view of itself as mystery. Barbet Schroeder covered this and more in a mature manner that one doesn't easily forget. Yet, it's a good try.
The 'twisty' elements fuck it up. The 1st hour is beautifully constructed in character relationships and tension, as it's so well orchestrated in the acting, scripting, characterization, and emotional depth that it's everything that this same year's The Neon Demon isn't. Then the two big twists in the final act come and it goes to hell: being unnecessarily confusing and cliche at best, and gimmicky at worst.