Women in transit By Miguel Peirotti
Is there a new limbo where the precognitive adolescent stage develops into adulthood, or is it just a mirage created by a handful of recent films? A half-boiled answer to this riddle was offered, albeit tangentially, by the official selection at the latest BAFICI. Here was one of its underground currents: the presence of a type of woman who is painfully affected by her environment, by her own perception of the world or by her developing sensitivity, in a sort of urgent, vital transition which nobody save for the detached audience member can appreciate.
The grand jury prize winner at BAFICI, the South Korean-Canadian In Between Days, is indeed proof of the aforementioned existential enclosure, in its depiction of the hesitant emotional blooming of a teenage girl.
Hormones play decisive role in the mother-daughter duel of the Danish Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star (Liv), in which the titular girl’s 14 years of age and her mother’s emotional 14 years play havoc with the family’s domestic accord. In the Spanish The Straight Line (La línea recta), the inner desolation of the film’s protagonist becomes a source of atonal tension, lacking in crescendos, but nonetheless irreversible.
In the French The Year After (L’ année suivante), intimate misery is caused by the death of a father: Faced with the sudden deconstruction of her family, teenage Emanuelle finds her place in a new type of family made up of friends. In the German The Unpolished (Die Unerzogenen), the 13-year-old heroine experiences the harshness of a budding adulthood when her father, an ex-con, returns home ingloriously and still ensconced in a prison culture with which the family itself is not equipped to cope. The Mexican Turtle Family (Familia tortuga) deals with a family in which it is the daughter who sets off the overdue change which the rest of the family cannot face.
The last of these films is not strictly concerned with adolescence and its satellite mood shifts: A woman mourning the violent death of a husband and son is the subject of the Argentinean-Belgian The Tide (La Marea), which proffers a rock-hard diagnosis on pain and regeneration, communicated in the universal language of unease and helplessness.
The films above offer a series of female characters forced by circumstance to unwillingly assimilate and define the rules of the game. These forlorn agonists must find a new meaning for their lives.