Ordinary Failures (2022)

Ordinary Failures (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Ordinary Failures(2022)
Director: Cristina Grosan
Cast: Vica Kerekes, Jana Plodková, and Jirí Simek
Genres: Sci-fi/Mystery
Release date: 13 October 2022
IMDB Rating: 5.9/10
Language: Czech, Hungarian, Italian, and Slovakian
Duration: 1h 24m


Ordinary Failures (2022)


Ordinary Failures was one of the five films in this year’s Venice program in which Czech filmmakers took a significant part. The film attracted the attention of the Romanian-Hungarian filmmaker Cristina Grosan, who took home the prize for the best director under 40 years of age. However, despite the Hungarian, Italian, and Slovak co-production, the film based on the script by Klára Vlasáková can be appropriated by the Czechs as well – the cast, character names, and location reveal mainly the domestic production background, but at the same time, it is a modern festival film with a European cut.

We gradually get to know three women of different ages, social statuses, and experienced problems, each of which has its chapter. Aging Hana (Taťjana Medvecká) is grieving the death of her husband, she is also fired from her job not long before retirement, and her only companion is a robotic dog, a constantly present memory of her deceased spouse. In contrast, Tereza (Nora Klimešová) is currently celebrating her 13th birthday and, like a typical teenager, is clumsily exploring her sexuality and social relationships. Of course, her uncomprehending father and overly controlling mother don’t make it easy for her, so the girl becomes even more attached to her cat, which has just given birth to kittens – and one of them urgently needs help. The third heroine is Silva (Beáta Kaňoková), who, together with her partner, is raising little David, who is beginning to show signs of problematic behavior.

The social drama about women’s destiny is interwoven with a deliberately understated sci-fi line. This lies in a mysterious ecological disaster that also affects the department store in the center of Prague, where all three women are currently located. “What attracted me to the script was its subliminal uneasiness, the feeling that something was happening,” Medvecká said. And he is right – from the beginning, the viewer is waiting to see where the narrative based on the patiently drawn characters will go. Roughly two-thirds of the film, during which the backgrounds of all the heroines are civilly and systematically depicted, act as exposition, after which the real plot should start. At that moment, however, there is only room left for the apocalyptic finale, which is relatively distant in style from the previous events.

For a long time, the film relies on deliberate neo-opulence, a subtle depiction of commonness and the everyday. Several viewers (and especially female viewers) recognize each other in several nicely captured moments, for example, the existential dryness of Silva in the sometimes unsatisfactory role of a mother is very aptly observed. This observational approach is strong in that the characters don’t judge, moralize, or force some lines on the audience at the expense of others. Thanks to this, for example, Silva’s lesbian relationship is presented with self-evident lightness, it is not related to her main problem in the form of an unmanageable child and adds character to the layering and rendering. But what if the finale does not make enough use of these played parts?

The climax of the story is based on the fact that our everyday worries are worthless in the face of an inevitable ecological disaster. However, the sense of belonging between women (and ideally between people in general) still makes sense and can be one of the pillars that will help to survive any tragic period. While most of the footage is based on detachment and even coldness towards the protagonists, pathos prevails towards the end. “The old is ending, we don’t know the new yet,” Hana hints at the hope hidden even in cataclysmic conditions. These are enhanced by the atmospheric use of some Prague, which seems to have fallen out of dystopian narratives, and the ambient soundtrack, which is signed by Pjoni, who is very active this year (whose music is also heard in Arvéd and Nightsiren).

Ordinary failures can be placed with their heads held high alongside contemporary European art, which tries to cover abstract and hard-to-grasp themes by drawing (and then intentionally not playing) everyday lines. The result of the team around Cristina Grosan is a sensitive capture of the need to come to terms with the inevitable, in the context of the uncertain and confusingly disturbing present; on the one hand, reveling in technology and seemingly unlimited possibilities, but at the same time threatening and confusing from all sides.

It is appropriately chilling to observe how the characters ignore global problems until they begin to directly affect their lives. The strength of the work therefore lies more in the capture of the atmosphere and thematic richness than in the breathtaking realization, thanks to (or perhaps rather “because of”) what makes it more stimulating to think about the film than to watch it. In any case, this is a very likable act, which at the end of the year will belong to the more important and valuable titles of domestic origin.

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