The Definition of Insanity

"Good"

The Definition of Insanity Review


Robert Margolis is a struggling actor... playing a struggling actor named Robert Margolis. Both Margolises have appeared in indie films Criminals and Morocco, may (or may not) be married, and possibly possess a self-destructive need to act. This is the concept -- and slight conceit -- behind Margolis' The Definition of Insanity, a fake digital video documentary following one man's ascension to nowhere.

Don't think "mockumentary" here. Margolis and co-director Frank Matter aren't satirizing the verité form, nor are they making light of the film's subject matter. Instead, they convey Margolis' mad desire to succeed with an agreeable mix of broad humor and pathos. So a scene in which our hero takes a job distributing flyers for "Animal Farm: The Musical" is followed closely by an argument as to whether he and his wife can afford to buy her a much-needed pair of boots.

It's that combination of hopeless optimism and sheer desperation that make Margolis (both the actor and the character) more appealing than a short summary can illustrate. Initially, the guy presents the classic cliché, telling a newbie actor that you have to be addicted to acting in order to make it.

But when he lives up to that expectation -- auditioning like crazy, camping out at an agent's office, borrowing money to make the rent -- it's hard not to admire his determination. Even more appealing is when Margolis tells the camera he's not into making it big. He just wants to work.

So where does the real life end and the fictional stuff take over? Hard to tell, but the curiosity is thankfully not used as a crutch, as it's not valuable enough to sustain a feature-length film. As The Definition of Insanity heads toward a sharper mix of chuckles and sadness, and less believability, we know that Margolis and Matter's creative sides are in charge, using Margolis' true existence as a loose blueprint.

The act of making a pseudo-documentary about yourself -- even a fictional one -- does carry the immediate risk of appearing self-serving. That's true here, even despite Margolis's desperate charm. And considering that, for decades, students everywhere have been making films about not being able to make films, the overall concept pales a bit.

So, then, how much is Margolis actually acting? Or, is he just acting like a guy named Robert Margolis who happens to be a lot like him? Kelli Barnett, not Margolis's wife (I don't think) but playing her, makes a fine contribution as the only person who really knows him and the person most hurt by his actions.

The Definition of Insanity probably won't jump-start Robert Margolis' acting career, but it might get him closer to that status of working actor, just as he wished for in the film. So while the realities merge, here's something to consider: According to the film's press material, Margolis and Matter have successfully entered the film in 21 film festivals from Woodstock to South Korea, winning numerous awards. Now that's the kind of persistence Robert Margolis the film character can identify with.



The Definition of Insanity

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 10th December 2005

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Robert Margolis, Frank Matter

Producer: Robert Margolis, Frank Matter

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.