Beanpole ★★★★

amidst the abundance of war and post-war films a black hole resides in their often male-centric, noisy, and blatantly brutal narratives. a resounding question of “where are the women?” fall on deaf ears. they are pushed to the back in almost invisibility if not pigeonholed into weepy, despairing Penelopes waiting for their Odysseuses to return whilst countless of female stories are ignored, left to be told. so it is quite the gin and tonic to encounter Beanpole standing tall amongst these tonic-less, plain, generic brands of gin. whilst its distinct throes and woes of the female anguish curtain the gritty streets, poverty-stricken and cramped spaces of post-war Leningrad doused in the musk of death, the skeletal frame housing its brittle coping mechanism (or the sense of it) silently collapses and gets hit by the osteoporosis of suppressed trauma and (in)visible battle scars. how these women selfishly and gently navigate the loss of femininity, essence of womanhood, and gender expectations born out of the lethal “patriarchal womb” is an agonisingly heartening sight.

Beanpole is also somehow reminiscent of Clarice Lispector’s debut novel Near to the Wild Heart for me. both aspire for indifference for them to only really stay submerged in a swamp of an unsuccessfully communicated feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. they grab onto anything, anything that gives some kind of meaning / purpose. and as the film closes in an arrestingly profound scene, it is a story about women trying to handle the demons of tragedies in any form of control they can muster. it is further complicated by the inclusion of difference in social (dis)order stripped down by their undeniable similarity of experiences.

Saoirse Ronan once said in a sing song voice, “women, women, women” I chanted with her as I thought women truly only have each other; and that’s besides the gin and tonic, it’s the absolute vodka.

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