My Happy Family (2017, Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß)

Manana is tired of her family, and one day walks out and gets her own apartment. Everyone tells her this is unacceptable and ridiculous and she’ll come crawling back, but she does not. She still sees her husband and kids and parents, reluctantly, but mostly keeps to herself even when home. Remarkably, the movie allows this to happen, doesn’t condemn or destroy her.

Michael Sicinski on letterboxd:

Nana & Simon’s choice to spatialize Manana’s rebellion allows them to literalize her movement away from the fold, a break which is then compromised by her older brother’s insistence that some dumb lugs in her building “keep an eye on her.” Unbeknownst to Manana, the patriarchy is everywhere. This is made even clearer, in far harsher terms, when some old friends of Manana’s divulge a secret about her past, something that she herself did not know.

That something is that her husband Soso (“ironically but accurately named”) had a long-term affair, something her friends assume Manana already knew, because why else would she have left. In fact, he has a son with this woman, and Manana meets him under the pretense of checking their gas meter. Meanwhile life goes on in the family she has left – one kid has a breakup, the other has a new (pregnant) girlfriend, and Manana’s parents and brother can never stop meddling.

Bilge Ebiri, whose review got me watching this in the first place:

The film unfolds as a series of long takes, as we follow characters in and out of rooms, staying close enough to register individual experiences while always making sure to keep the rest of the world in focus. But the camerawork isn’t that rough, handheld, vérité style we’ve become so used to; it’s fluid without being showy, immediate without being unbalanced.

Codirectors Ekvtimishvili and Gross made a previous feature called In Bloom, which is also about females in Georgia escaping their families. Soso starred in Aleksey German’s Under Electric Clouds, and I have no idea where Manana (Ia Shugliashvili) came from.

Related posts