iunie 2022
Festivalul TIFF 2022
Balaur / A Higher Law (dir. Octav Chelaru), tells a dark tale of the consequences of repressed sexual desires finding unhealthy outlets.

The film was an emotionally tough experience. We enter the world of Ecaterina (Mãlina Manovici), a religion teacher married to an Orthodox priest (Alexandru Papadopol). Her world is bleak; her family life is monotone and emotionless. Interactions with her son or sex with her husband have a formal necessity to them that feels like duty rather than coming from a place of love or passion. Her community is equally formal and restricted. Nobody seems to be thinking freely and engaging each other with passion and eagerness.

There is a subdued tone to the film mirrored in its relatively flat, sepia like color tones: this film's world seems stale. Yet on the other hand, the world could be perceived as pretty regular since there is no physical or blatant verbal abuse occurring, technically no restrictions on free speech, and no other Draconian restrictions that set my alarm bells ringing.

The strangling force described above is dangerously imperceptible, so that as Ecaterina begins to rebel against her community and engage in a sexual affair with her high school student, I caught myself wondering what drove her to such a radical action when her life simply didn't seem all that off. This is what I found the film's greatest achievement. If there had been more blatant, easy-to-read signs of abuse towards Ecaterina it would have been easier to find a more sensationalist scapegoat for her rebellion. Yet it's precisely the imperceptibility of the shackles placed on Ecaterina by the dreary patriarchal world and its outdated religious principles that drives her to act out.

During the film, she sets herself apart from her peers by displaying a lively and engaging demeanor, encouraging her students to examine their ideas about the role of personal choice and freedom in the context of their religion. She continues these discussions at home, yet finds herself ridiculed and her interests unrequited. Ecaterina certainly is no hero, and she makes herself, her family, and her community brutally suffer for acting on her spontaneous sexual desires.

The film isn't advocating frivolous acting upon any urge that comes up such as starting an affair with a minor, instead it raises many questions about the perils of stifling free-thought and sexual curiosity within communities. With archaic, outdated ways of living prevalent throughout the globe and forced upon the members of their communities, I can only wonder how many other Ecaterinas are out there in real life, drowning in their desire to challenge the status quo and explore their sexual desires in a healthy way without judgement from others.

I salute the film's effort to raise these tough but important questions and encourage a dialogue around them in order to stimulate the search for healthier co-existing.

Descarcă catalogul aperiTIFF 2022 aici.

1 comentariu

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    Arpad, 10.09.2022, 23:27

    It is not only an affair with a minor, it is the classical adultery story. Nothing new.
    Blaming the church instead of the dingy Facebook gossip is the easy way out.
    Nevertheless a very poignant plot. And superbly acted by Malina.

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