A Quiet Feminist Rebellion

in 34th FilmFest Munich

by Kaan Karsan

Dinky Sinky, the first feature by Mareille Klein, is about a strong woman who is suddenly abandoned by her boyfriend as well her friends, students, and even occasionally her mother. She is dedicated to fulfilling her dearest wishes in life. She is young, beautiful and successful, but not obedient enough to be content within a patriarchal, outdated social order. From a rhetorical point of view, this film not only portrays a peaceful feminist resistance: it is also about a special kind of rebellion – personal, honest and worthy.

Frida is a vibrant, jumpy woman, surrounded by upper middle-class people like herself, including her widowed mother, who has recently met an indiscreet old man, and a few friends working on straightening out their own problems. She lives with Tobias, an elementary school teacher, and takes care of a hamster, a gift from her boyfriend. Everything looks fine at first glance, but after Frida visits her doctor, he advises her to try alternative methods of having a baby with Tobias. It becomes obvious that they have problems they need to solve – not only gynaecological, but bureaucratic ones.

Insurance is not willing to cover the couple’s expenses since they are unmarried, and Tobias’ consistent reluctance takes its toll. Frida proposes to Tobias – and their relationship then collapses. Now Frida needs to meet another man in order to have a child, or find another method.

Klein, who has previously directed documentaries and short films, deals with this major social issue using a modest approach. She never resorts to slapstick humour or playing up bizarre situations, instead achieving a marvellous balance between comedy and drama, sarcasm and seriousness. Klein’s exceptional talent is to observe and measure the authenticity of society, in which each individual acts and reacts. She is attentive to small details within the frame, visually and texturally. Best of all, she knows when to progress and when to stop. The final sequence is a great way to crystallize the film’s sophisticated sense of timing and rhythm.

It’s difficult for good writing to realise its potential without good acting. A magnificent newcomer, actress Katrin Röver understands her character in every respect. Depicting a woman who wants to have a child, is suddenly isolated from her closest friends, and dares to go it alone despite her financial troubles, Röver is able to show numerous different shades in her acting.

Nonetheless, Dinky Sinky is not a masterpiece. It has some of the problems seen in almost all debut features. It takes no major risks – it generally opts for safer methods of storytelling. But the film is ultimately always engaging, for its well-written dialogue and a splendid actress of exquisite talent. Klein, with her great sense of humour and gloom, is a very promising writer-director.

Edited by Lesley Chow