Documentary for some may be a form of journalism — films of pure information, with people in the know looking into the camera and offering basic intel. You won’t learn much from “Actress,” Robert Greene’s remarkable documentary profile of Brandy Burre. But that’s a great thing; documentaries should be thought of as a more diverse lot. You might recognize Burre from a stint on season two of “The Wire.” (She was Tommy Carcetti’s crafty campaign manager Theresa D’Agostino.) During shooting she got pregnant, then retired from acting to become a stay-at-home mom. When “Actress” catches up with her she’s thinking of getting back in the game but acutely aware producers aren’t crazy about employing middle-aged women.
Right from the start it’s not clear how much what’s true, especially as things with her then-partner, who mostly skulks through shots, take a sudden turn south. But it’s not a puzzle film. It’s Greene’s view of Burre’s view of herself. She’s even introduced rehearsing her introduction, saying the same thing multiple times as though to get it right. Sometimes Greene films her in beautifully designed shots that call to mind Douglas Sirk films, where women battle with the oppressiveness of their surroundings. It’s partly truth, partly fiction, and what’s moving about “Actress” — apart from Burre’s endearing humor and never-wavering commitment to an experimental film that pries into trying times — is the way it captures how we all erect versions of ourselves, and not just to others.