Floating aka Das Floß! (2015, directed by Julia C. Kaiser, written by Julia C. Kaiser and Julia Becker)
[30 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]
Katha and Jana, a couple soon to be married, sets off on their own separate weekend-long bachelorette parties. Jana throws a party with her friends at her own home, while Katha is taken on a boat trip with her brother, childhood friends, and somewhat awkwardly, Momo who is the potential sperm donor for the couple.
The story mostly focuses on Katha’s boat trip, where we explore her character through her interactions and stories from her brother and friends on the boat. Though we occasionally the movie checks in on Jana, who is mostly drunk throughout her own party.
To me, this movie is mostly entertaining in the sense of vicariously enjoying a fun weekend boat trip with friends. There isn’t much conflict or obstacles in the story, and everything goes relatively smooth. The presence of Momo the potential sperm donor does introduce a bit of awkwardness with Katha, but mostly even he gets along pretty well with the rest of the group. Conflict doesn’t seem to be the main purpose of this film as much as an delving into the mind of a person who’s about to have a big change in her life. Getting married and having kids is a big decision, and very much an irreversible one. In Floating!, we see how Katha confronts this in the company of her closest friends.
Ruby Sparks (2012, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, written by Zoe Kazan)
[No. 28 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]
This is a strange and quirky movie, probably along the lines of Adaptation or other Charlie Kaufman-type stories. It tells the story of a novelist whose character he imagines miraculously comes to life.
This movie is a great deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope. Since Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) is, by design, a young white man’s concept of an ideal girlfriend. She’s beautiful, spontaneous, fun, and just weird enough to be considered quirky yet not too weird as to be considered crazy or unlikeable. She claims that ‘she’s a mess’, but we don’t really see how ‘messy’ she is.
While writer Zoe Kazan has stated that we should not call Ruby a MPDG, and the use of that term is too reductive, the story does touch upon similar ideas and contexts that prompts people to invoke that term. The movie pokes at the the concept of what a ‘perfect girlfriend’ or ‘perfect relationship’ as envisioned by a young heterosexual man. This is interesting to think about since almost all media is designed to pander to, and also influence the the ideals and desires of the straight young adult (white/privileged) men. So much media is designed so that female characters hare of the optimum desirability to the men, or have some personality archetype that serves the development of the male character.
Perhaps the true core of the movie functions even if we put aside MPDGs the media, or gender. Ruby Sparks shows us how our idea of the ‘perfect relationship’ doesn’t really work in practice. It asks the inevitable question that even if someone is lucky enough to meet such a ‘perfect person’, what would happen next?
As humans, we are flawed and constantly change. So even if we manage to find a ‘perfect relationship’, our ideas of perfection inevitably change as we grow and learn. Would the relationship remain ‘perfect’ forever?
An / Sweet Bean (2015, written and directed by Naomi Kawase, based on the novel by Durian Sukegawa)
[27 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]
An is slow, but sweet and charming movie about appreciating the beauty of the small things in life and nature. It is about a baker named Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) who makes and sells dorayaki. He has a dark past that is eventually revealed in the course of the movie, and is generally grumpy and jaded. Tokue (Kirin Kiki) approaches him for a job. Her home-cooked red bean paste (An) impresses him, and he hires her to teach him the recipe.
The plot is simple, but like Tokue’s philosophy, the beauty lies in appreciating the simple and small moments in everything.
Ange & Gabrielle (2015, written and directed by Anne Giafferi)
[No. 26 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen (halfway point!)]
Almost like Lolo, this is another French comedy about two single parents with teenage children meeting each other. But the premise here is different, as the reason that these two people met in the first place was because Ange’s (Patrick Bruel) son has gotten Gabrielle’s (Isabelle Carré) daughter pregnant. Gabrielle tries to convince Ange to convince his son to take responsibility for the baby. This is especially hard for Ange as he has never even met his son before.
The story is largely about how people come to grips with parenthood, and how the lives of people get bound together by their children. This is a very charming comedy, and I probably like this more than Lolo. The chemistry between Isabelle Carré and Patrick Bruel is fantastic.