by Marta Bałaga
- Forget Steve Carell: in Daria Woszek's odd film, there is a new 50-year-old virgin in town, and she has devotional objects to prove it
Named Best Film at the Gijón International Film Festival (alongside Fon Cortizo's 9 fugas [+see also:
film profile] - see the news), Daria Woszek's oddity Marygoround [+see also:
interview: Daria Woszek
film profile] has already been carving a nice little niche for itself following its triumph at the Fantasia Film Festival all the way back in September. It's a welcome development as, just like its protagonist, this is the kind of film that too often ends up ignored: it’s weird, it's over-the-top, it has nothing to do with your usual safe social drama. And it starts with a rectal examination, for God's sake.
Creating an arresting, well-thought-out visual universe, drowned in dark shades of blue and hilariously bad sex horoscopes, Woszek however doesn't get carried away and in fact deeply cares for the 50-year-old virgin Mary (theatre actress Grażyna Misiorowska), introduced in the film at a stage in her life when she enters menopause. It's a big change — not made any easier by her prescribed hormone patches — which predictably makes the woman act out. The sudden alteration in her behaviour is further encouraged by her wild card niece, who seems to somehow be both perennially stoned and hungover.
Working in a grocery store that screams communist Poland (even though, this time around, the shelves are full), Mary sticks to the world of fantasies lived out among her many religious artifacts, trashy romance novels and print wallpaper. No wonder, as nobody ever pays any attention to her, even despite her flaming red hair. When even a bag of frozen veggies cannot bring her any relief anymore, Mary actually starts, amid waves of hot flushes, to pay closer attention to her body, pondering putting some of her dreams into action while a naked Jeremy Irons graces her tiny TV screen. There are echoes of a Catholic approach to womanhood here – if you are not a mother or a wife, or even a lover, do you even exist?
Sure, some of it is on the nose (Mary is a virgin and she surrounds herself with statues of the Virgin Mary, you know); and though Misiorowska sure can find her way among all the rose petals, not everyone else leaves unscratched. But what Marygoround does best is take a story that could spawn a thousand life-affirming romantic comedies and turn it on its head, proving that self-discovery, even of the erotic kind, can ultimately mean many different things. A big “screw you” to anyone who has ever deemed a film about older women as “menopausal”, this is a feminist fairytale no one could ever see coming.
Written and directed by Daria Woszek, Marygoround was produced by Jan Pawlicki and Marcin Lech for Jutrzenka. Co-produced by Dagmara Molga and Jacek Szumlas for All Muses and Solopan. Backed by the Polish Film Institute. Sales by Media Luna New Films.
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