Bitch (2017)

Director: Marianna Palka
Writer: Marianna Palka
Cast: Marianna Palka, Jason RitterJaime KingBrighton SharbinoRio ManginiKingston FosterJason MaybaumSol Rodriguez
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2017

Jill (Marianna Palka) is a mother of three who tries to keep it all together while her husband Bill (Jason Ritter) is away for work, and for his own fun. But she struggles increasingly until one day she just snaps and leaves her old life behind by starting to live as a feral dog. Bill calls in her sister Beth (Jaime King) to help, but the entire family is overwhelmed by the situation.

I enjoyed Bitch. It was a strong, often funny and definitely critical film that has a lot to say and does so in an entertaining way.

The feminist criticism of Bitch is pretty obvious and doesn’t need much interpretation. Which is fine because it’s a well-made and important point, even though it’s a pretty limited, upper-middle class situation that is shown here. I actually found the criticism from the point of view of disability studies more interesting here. Of course that isn’t entirely independent of feminist issues. But how the family deals and doesn’t deal with mental illness is fascinating to watch and provides a lot of room for discussion. Particularly considering the point at which the film ends.

I did find it a pity that the film shifts its attention to Bill pretty soon and then remains there throughout the film. I would have liked it better, I think, if it had stayed with Jill, although in these particular circumstances with this particular story I can understand why they did shift (and I do hope that the mentoring scene where it’s repeated over and over again that we should all focus on Jill, that this is about her, was some kind of meta commentary).

The cast was very strong, especially Palka herself who has the extra challenge of directing herself which can go wrong (and often does). [I really have to check out her other films.] But also the rest of the cast really do a great job and portray their roles very well.

It’s all brought together in a film that is surprisingly funny, considering the heavy material, and never boring for a single second while being smart and thoughtful. It’s a difficult balance but definitely one that works out here.

Summarizing: Pretty awesome.

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