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Self Made – review

This intriguing feature-length documentary by 1997 Turner prize artist Gillian Wearing is simple in conception and infinitely complex, both morally and aesthetically, in execution. A newspaper ad invites members of the public to participate in a method-acting experiment that would lead to them discovering their inner selves, which would be realised through scenes dramatising their alter egos. Seven applicants, mostly from the north-west of England, are chosen, all go through classes conducted by the charismatic teacher Sam Rumbelow, and five are channelled into mini-films that range through a troubled daughter playing Cordelia, a professional Lear, a would-be suicide identifying with the last days of Mussolini, and a sad 40-year-old romantic casting herself as a working-class Celia Johnson in a deadly serious reworking of Brief Encounter. This is a glib, exploitative project that toys with vulnerable people. It is perhaps of limited interest to popular audiences, but of value to film and drama students.


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