The Great Maiden's Blush



IMDb Rating 8.1 10 29

Plot summary

October 27, 2022 at 08:12 PM


Andrea Bosshard

Top cast

995.21 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 48 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Pogostemon 8 / 10

Fearful symmetry

I don't want to discuss the story itself in this review, but rather its structure, as that was the more impressive element of the film, and a very interesting achievement of the writer-directors.

It is a cat's cradle of a story, with complex symmetrical and interlocking lines leading between the two characters, Bunni and Aila. It is also a rounded yin-yang of a tale, as the two halves fit together with equal strength and balance, with bits of each seeping into the other's persona and story, inducing odd resonances. One is motherless, the other is fatherless; one bears a baby girl and the other a boy; one is dark and one is fair (one Maori, one Pakeha); one is masculine, skilled with driving and automotives, the other more feminine, a talented pianist with a penchant for gardening. Both have key encounters with father-son pairs who touch them on a very deep level; both have kept secret the identity of their babies' fathers. One rides a bus (passively) and the other drives a taxi (actively). At one point, the vertex of the yin yang is manifested as the two characters actually cross paths in the past.

In a less immediate, more echo-y way, the series of symmetries and resonances carries through to the supporting characters. And while their stories remain untold, they are made to come across as fairly complete people. For instance, one seemingly despicable character is given a chance to show his humanity in a 'throwaway' moment, fondly brushing an infant's cheek.

On the surface, the elements of the story suggest an old-timey melodrama of the Douglas Sirk ilk, but the narrative is revealed in small, impressionistic dribs and drabs, with multiple key aspects existing in vague outline. One way of looking at this is to acknowledge that, in the tradition of literary fiction, the power of a story comes from what is NOT said. On the other hand, the withholding of clarity and information feels like a bit of a gimmick. I reckon it is intended to keep you hungry. And thinking.

The low-key realism of the film-making also belies the melodramatic tradition. The present day scenes in the hospital maternity and neo-natal ward are shot in crisp ultra-realist high def, while the theme of memory and past is intoned, at least for Aila's part, in an impressionistic sunlit palette of Chopin and lush roses, along with speckled super-8 home movies. Bunni's past is largely seen in interior and nighttime shots, lacking color and expansiveness. Her character remains something of a puzzle, but an intriguing one.

Still, some of the Sirkian melodrama is maintained, at least in the acting of one secondary character. If you have seen the film, I wonder if you know who I mean.

I record these observations as a way of trying to open up the filmmakers' intentions for myself, and maybe for others. After having watched it last night, I woke up dwelling on the work and its structure, which is always a good sign. All in all, a very engaging film, and quite visually stunning. Plus, Chopin.

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