Miracle: powerhouse performance by Michaela Bendulová
by Vladan Petkovic
- In his second film, Lehotský partly stays on the path he started with the touching and inventive docudrama Blind Loves, and veers more to the fiction territory
Miracle [+see also:
film profile] by the Slovak director Juraj Lehotský had its world premiere in the East of the West competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In his second film, Lehotský partly stays on the path he started with the touching and inventive docudrama Blind Loves [+see also:
film profile], and veers more to the fiction territory. The film features a mesmerizing performance by the non-professional Michaela Bendulová in the leading role.
At the beginning of the film, teenage girl Ela (Bendulová) is taken by her mother and mother’s boyfriend to a correctional facility for underage persons. There is no explanation why she is there, but when we see and hear the rest of the girls (all played by real-life young delinquents) there is no need to know the exact reasons- it is clear that they all have done things most adults never will: prostitutions, drugs, thievery...
When Ela visits a doctor after feeling nausea, she finds out that she is 13 weeks pregnant with Roby (Robert Roth), a supermarket security guard who hardly even takes her calls. She decides to run away with two other girls during the New Year’s Eve celebration. She finds Roby still addicted to drugs and owning serious money to a pusher who threatens to kill him. Honestly trying to help her boyfriend, Ela offers Roby to sell her to a pimp, saying that she will easily escape.
This is a very gloomy film, both in subject matter and tone. The scene of the New Year party is particularly surrealistically staged, with sad girls sitting aimlessly and without any trace of celebratory mood, listening to melancholy piano music. The image itself is also dark for most of the film (excellent effort by DoP Noro Hudec), and every room Ela enters seems to lack light, except for the hospital where she is taking care of an old, immobile man as part of her „work therapy“, which are also the only moments she seems genuinely happy. Editor Marek Šulík’s frequent employment of jump cuts accentuates the documentary feeling of the film.
Miracle is a well-rounded film with powerful emotion which rings completely true, and the biggest credit for this must go to Bendulová, who was found by the production in one of Slovakia’s re-education centers. She is the real deal, but also much more than that- this kind of charisma and talent is a rare find, so we can just hope that she gets the chance to keep working as an actress.