What do you need to be, to be really funny? Stand-up comedienne Carmen Lynch knows what it takes. As she wanders from make-up mirror to performance stage, via Portland’s woozy streets and an all-night grocery store, we’re given an intimate insight into a talented individual. The city’s saturated lights and dying, showbiz neon become Carmen’s passing backdrop. She confronts herself - her looks, her dreams, the weird rituals of mating in the modern world - by confronting her audiences. Sometimes they laugh with her. Sometimes they don’t laugh at all.
Carmen, by Chloë Sevigny, is the 13th commission from Miu Miu Women’s Tales, the short-film series by women who critically celebrate femininity in the 21st century.
Chloë Sevigny’s debut as a director came in 2016, when her short-film, Kitty, based on a story by Paul Bowles, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Her award-winning acting career is over two decades long, including cult features, such as Larry Clark’s Kids and Walt Whitman’s Last Days of Disco, to TV shows like Big Love and Bloodline. During the same period, Sevigny’s status as a singular fashion icon has also soared. She has designed her own collections, modeled and starred in two Miu Miu campaigns (Spring/Summer 1996; Autumn/Winter 2012).
Carmen has a loose, voyeuristic, improvisational mood that reflects Sevigny’s interest, “in making a short-film about process, being a woman, celebrity and ego. It’s about the love of the craft, the love of the art, the repetition of it.” The script developed by Carmen Lynch first writing her own stand-up material and then Sevigny building intuitively around that. “The film captures a lot of who I am,” says Lynch. “When you’re on the road, being alone doesn’t even feel like being alone anymore. A lot of us comedians are introverts, observing and listening.”
All the great stand-up comedians - from Bill Hicks to Sandra Bernhard - have oscillated between irony and introspection, comedy and personal tragedy. Carmen continues this fascinating mythology in a heartfelt, melancholic and tender portrait by one performer towards another performer, who could also be any woman bravely willing to open themselves up to others.