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VENICE 2022 Giornate degli Autori

Review: Ordinary Failures


- VENICE 2022: Cristina Grosan brings together three women whose day-to-day lives are upended by a strange natural phenomenon, in an apocalyptic tale calling for human solidarity

Review: Ordinary Failures
Taťjana Medvecká in Ordinary Failures

Three women are grappling with their imperfect existences when a strange, natural phenomenon erupts into their day-to-day lives, inviting them to lift their gaze. Hungarian-Romanian director Cristina Grosan’s second feature film Ordinary Failures [+see also:
interview: Cristina Grosan
film profile
- presented in competition at the 19th Giornate degli Autori, unfolding within the 79th Venice Film Festival - smacks of an apocalypse but in an intimate key which doesn’t slide into catastrophism. It’s a visually captivating drama set in a very near future where it seems time on this earth is about to run out, forcing the three protagonists to stop and reconnect with themselves.

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The film is divided into three acts - one for each of the protagonists - plus a final act involving them all. Hana (Taťjana Medvecká) has very recently lost her husband yet finds herself unable to grieve. To appease her daughter, she attends group therapy, which she doesn’t believe in and which she gives up on, choosing to focus on work. Unfortunately, however, she also loses her job and, as if that weren’t enough, the robot dog her husband was attached to is starting to malfunction and needs to be taken away for repair. Tereza (Nora Klimešová) is a queer teenager whose parents (Vica Kerekes and Rostislav Novák jr.) organise a birthday party for her, which she has no interest in and which turns out to be a flop because their daughter is far more interested in her cat who’s about to give birth than her fake friends. Silva (Beáta Kaňoková) is an anxious young mother on the verge of depression who is forced to handle the consequences of her son (Adam Berka) punching one of his classmates. But she doesn’t feel up to it, and, in order to ease the tension a little, she takes her child off to play in a shopping centre… and leaves him there.

These three stories run parallel to one another, over the course of a day, as radio and TV networks broadcast news of mysterious explosions taking place in various areas of the city. At first, people assume there’s a fault in the gas lines, but when the electricity network also starts going haywire and a strange glow appears in the sky, reminiscent of the Northern Lights (amidst widespread fires and columns of black smoke), alarm bells start to ring. There’s something going on, and it’s only by helping one another that our heroes will work out how to contend with it. The origin of these sinister events is an enigma and will remain so until the end, because it’s the effect, not the cause, that counts.

“You want to go out right now? – If not now, when everything is changing, then when?”. There’s no sense of panic, the characters seem to face their destiny with relative serenity, perhaps sensing an opportunity in these strange, natural phenomena, to get things back to how they’re supposed to be, and the possibility of a new start in a world which is falling apart. Back in her first film, Cristina Grosan depicted an existential crisis and invited audiences to look at what’s important in life. In this her latest movie, it’s the spectre of the end of the world which puts “ordinary failures” into perspective.

Ordinary Failures is a Czech/Hungarian/Italian/Slovakian movie, produced by Xova Film and co-produced by Laokoon Filmgroup, Rosamont, Czech Television and Super Film, with international sales falling to French firm Totem Films.

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(Translated from Italian)

Photogallery 05/09/2022: Venice 2022 - Ordinary Failures

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Cristina Grosan, Vica Kerekes, Nora Klimesová, Tatjana Medvecká, Beata Kanokova, Judit Stalter, Klára Vlasáková
© 2022 Dario Caruso & Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -, Dario Caruso,,

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