Sunday, April 23, 2017

Existential Crisis

Malina (1991) - Schroeter
A Viennese writer (Isabelle Huppert) is having an existential crisis. She struggles between two men - Malina (Mathieu Carrière), her stoic, supportive husband and Ivan (Can Togay), her young handsome Bulgarian lover, to define her existence. It's a gripping, surreal film that showcases Huppert as an actress. She is absolutely radiant in this.

The writer is always seen typing away countless letters that ends up on the floor of her flat that will never get sent. She goes through a whirlwind of emotions, searching for that eternal happiness, but not finding with either men. Malina, with the female sounding name, could be the one and the same as the writer herself. He is the rock in her fragile existence in the beginning. But as she slowly loses her grip with reality, he stays distant and cruel. Ivan, whose nonchalance makes her all the more desperate. finally ends up abandoning her.

The film begins with a horrific nightmare of the writer. Her father throws her younger-self out the roof of the building. Her father is a recurring figure, sometimes seen in a Nazi uniform, reinforcing patriarchal post-war male dominant European society. Malina is a complex and crazy movie filled to the brim with symbolic images and close ups of Huppert's tearful face. Mirrors, reflecting our writer's state, is also prominently used. It goes completely bonkers in the last 30 minutes as things turn completely surreal, with part of the writer's apartment constantly on fire while Huppert pacing back and forth in her letter strewn flat as if everything is normal. Malina has a same emotional intensity as any Zulawski films and Huppert gives all to her blistering performance as a woman who desperately needs to validate her existence.