THE FILM starts with Rosanna Arquette questioning herself: "Cannot actresses balance between work and family? Especially after reaching 40?" Well, she says not exactly, but to the effect, and makes her intention very clear with a footage from Michael Powell film "The Red Shoes" (1948). The point is clear, and interesting if you watch the heroine's fate.
SO ROSANNA STARTs her journey, holding a hand-held camera, interviewing as many actresses as possible. Some of the interviewees are her good friends while some are probably encountered at the film festival in Cannes, and agreed to say a thing or two. The film comprises these footages until Rosanna goes to Debra Winger, who Rosanna says, retired from the profession. (But I am afraid that not all people share Rosanna's view that she actually 'retired.')
Now, let's face it. AS A DOCUMENTARY, "Searching for Debra Winger" is a big failure, being too disjointed and having no focus. After all, there are so many actresses out there now, and many opinions too, especially those about their professions, this case acting. It's diversity, which should be treated more carefully.
THE INTERVIEWEES include Patricia Arquette, Emmanuelle Beart, Katrin Cartlidge, Laura Dern, Jane Fonda, Teri Garr, Whoopi Goldberg, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Salma Hayek, Holly Hunter, Dinae Lane, Kelly Lynch, Julianna Margulles, Chiara Mastroianni, Samantha Mathis, Frances McDormand, Catherine O'Hara, Julia Ormond, Gwyneth Paltrow, Martha Plimpton, Charlotte Rampling, Vanessa Redgrave, Theressa Russell, Meg Ryan, Ally Sheedy, Hilary Shephard-Turner, Sharon Stone, Tracy Ullman, JoBeth Williams, Debra Winger, Alfre Woodard, and Robin Wright Penn. I don't know why, but Roger Ebert pops up, saying very unique things about one Angelina Jolie film. (Come on, Roger, you must be kidding, right?)
SOME OF THE INTERVIEWEES are very inspired, giving us insights into the business with humor and charms. You see Frances McDormand, and you understand her good-natured personality instantly. Or look at Charlotte Rampling (who appears with Katrin Cartlidge), and how she dresses herself. She is gorgeous, as seen in "Under the Sand" and her fashion sense! And we miss late Katrin Cartlidge, who shows her amiable down-to-earth personality. What is regrettable is that the time alloted to them (or some others) are too short. Why did they decide to include Roger Ebert?
And if you say that actress's job gets harder after 40 (and I do not disagree), OK, where are those people? I mean, Streep, Weaver, Keaton, Close, Sarandon, and so on and on? On the UK side, how about Denti or Mirren? Or another Redgrave? On French side, how about Moreau or Deneuve? Rosanna must have approached to them, and if they declined interview, why did they? Because they think differently? Or just too busy? But if busy, Rossana's argument (about the profession) is no longer valid. I kept on thinking about it, and the idea certainly weakens the impact of the film's contents.
You might, moreover, still hate some of the interviewees, who give too strong opinions. SOme of them are not convincing, and some are downright irritating. At least Rosanna Arquette should be prasied for inducing them to be honest, and whether you like it or not, what they say before the camera is never boring.
The film is interesting to see regardless of the director's intentions, which gets blurred as the film goes on. Too many talks are gathered to support one coherent idea, but the interviews themselves are always fascinating.