Little One

**

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Little One 2020
"As pleasant as this is, their performances might have been better highlighted in a tighter run-time."

"Even the bride isn't dressed" but the preparations are various. Keti has been playing at the meadow with the "scamps", the pink she will be dressed in echoed in the dolls and dresses all around.

With the pregnancy this far advanced the insistence on that which is proprietary, appropriate, in keeping has the air of the desperate rear guard. Things will not be the same but that doesn't mean anyone has to be happy about it. "That's how it should be". Liljana is betrothed to Goran, the preparations are all made. The dress, the guest, the band, the banquet.

Ana Andonova's film's simplicity supports the depth of its conflicts, within that which is traditional, within that which is permitted. It is the fate of children at weddings to ever veer between delight and despair, and this is true for Keti. When the music stops and is replaced by a tinnital keening it is a wash of regret and relief.

The colours are washed as in the late mountain sun, an ageing of the old country (North Macedonia) that comes as much from hints of video as the sepia-tinge of film. Paths abound, both to and away from freedom. That there is just one named male character does not hide the importance of patriarchy to it all, indeed, against three generations of women the power is all still his. That deference, and when it comes defiance, are key. The dolls are no less telling in their perfect plastic poses, always quiet, always proper.

Martina Sterjoska convinces as an older sister and reluctant bride, Melanija Serafimovska as Keti has much of the film on her slight shoulders. Both fidget in the right ways, As pleasant as this is, their performances might have been better highlighted in a tighter run-time. The music by Goce Simonoski and the more traditional pieces arranged by him too contribute to a sense of place, but do not alleviate issues of pace. As rewarding as its ending is there is a sense that it is unearned, that fate has intervened when other means could not. There is a warning of bad-luck, but if it is triggered it is by substitution. If any tradition is seen to be not upheld it is hostility to guests, though this wedding is far more pink than red.

To be focused as much on Keti, her friend from the meadow, there is lent a sense of the naive. In waving that uses the whole body, in that trudge that with each set of steps says "fed up, fed up, fed up", there is also the ring of truth. Given the extent to which time and opportunity matter within the plot it is a shame that this is not tighter. While there is a countdown it is to confetti, and while that serves as stand-in for so much it is too light and widely spread to create much impact.

Reviewed on: 10 Oct 2021
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A couple of sisters stick together.

Director: Ana Andonova

Year: 2020

Runtime: 24 minutes

Country: Macedonia

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