Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Barandich's down-to-Earth charm and brusque humour anchors a film which finds absurdity in the commonplace details of life." | Photo: ESSE Production House

"I'm 45," says Anna (Svetlana Alekseevna Barandich) insistently when the woman from the agency enquires about her age. It's the least of the lies told in a tale in which no-one really wants to think about the truth. In reality, Anna works in a meat packing plant and trudges home through the snow to argue with her teenage daughter. In a country scarred by war, there doesn't seem to be much hope of a brighter future. No wonder she dreams of finding romance with an American man and leaving it all behind.

Although it's obvious that Anna is more than 45 and probably won't be able to produce the children that some of the men are dreaming off, the woman invites her along to the party anyway. All she has to do is mingle, be friendly and see if she hits it off with anyone. Sitting amid a cluster of well groomed, slender twentysomethings, she at least benefits from looking distinctive. A translator is provided to help facilitate conversation, summing up much of the mechanism of international dating agencies with her creative interpretation.

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She can attend these parties as often as she likes, Anna is told, as long as she doesn't do anything to cause trouble. It's not too difficult to anticipate, then, how the film will end. There are little hints early on when Anna takes scraps of meat from the factory to feed to stray dogs; she's a more complex and less self-focused person than she likes to think. In that same early sequence we see young men flirting with a young woman and then hurling insults at her when she doesn't stop to talk to them. The women at the party are not naive about how the men think of them, despite the best efforts of the agency. Everybody is putting on a performance but it only takes one little slip for reality to bare its teeth.

Barandich's down-to-Earth charm and brusque humour anchors a film which finds absurdity in the commonplace details of life. You might be rooting for Anna's dreams to come true but it's more satisfying to see her take control of her reality.

Reviewed on: 25 May 2019
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A single mother living in war-torn Ukraine is tempted by the chance to attend a party where she could meet American men looking for wives.

Director: Dekel Berenson

Writer: Dekel Berenson

Starring: Svetlana Alekseevna Barandich, Anastasia Vyazovskaya, Alina Chornogub

Year: 2019

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: Ukraine


Cannes 2019

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