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A weird and female empowering side of U.S. finds a home in Oldenburg


Between superhero blockbusters and studios’ critical darlings trying to stay dominant during awards season, the U.S. film industry is pretty busy. It’s impossible for every movie to breakthrough out there in the cinematic wilderness. This year’s Oldenburg Film Festival programme, however, has provided a home for two Northamerican out of the ordinary stories that distort established contemporary lifestyles and unravel the struggle of the female figure of patriarchal families in unconventional ways: the films Swallow and Greener Grass, presented in the Independent and International sections respectively.

„Swallow“, a feminist thriller

Directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, Swallow has been previously described as a “feminist thriller”. The account feels a bit short, nevertheless. Yes, the film shows the personal struggle of Hunter, a young wife portrayed by Haley Bennet who is completely devoted to his wealthy husband, and how she slowly, very slowly, realizes the life she wants out of the life she has chosen.

Dossier: Filmfest Oldenburg

When Hunter develops an eating disorder, where she is drawn to ingest nonfood objects from marbles to sharpen pins, Mirabella-Davis’ story, inspired by her grandma’s life, becomes a meaningful drama of empowerment. The dominance that Hunter is subjected to becomes more palpable as her cravings spin out of control and her husband’s family intervenes to return her to the role of the jolly housewife she is supposed to play.

Set in Upstate New York, where Hunter’s home reeks of isolation, Swallow sees Mirbaella-Davis constructing a domestic prison for her protagonist before later letting her tear it down. It’s a wonderful film debut that combines body horror and suburban suspense and will be remembered as one of the festival’s best from 2019.

„Greener Grass“, a strangely comical

Other repressed wives could be seen in the strangely comical Greener Grass, written, directed and led by Jocelyn Deboer and Dawn Luebben. Based on an awarded short by the same name, Greener Grass presents a pastel-coloured reality where conventional mannerisms and social behaviours are contorted in this strange version of the 20th century American dream.

Lesen Sie auch:
„Greener Grass“ – Willkommen in der Nachbarschaft des Grauens

Filmfest Oldenburg
„Greener Grass“ – Willkommen in der Nachbarschaft des Grauens

Imagine if the set of Desperate Housewives was and actual neighbourhood, with the same invasive lighting used in the soap opera, and everyone drives golf carts instead of cars. A friendship between two housewives (if they have a job or other personal characteristics, we do not ever know) played by Deboer and Luebben is put to test when one decides to give away other a pretty part of her life. Surrealistic humour is at hand in the film, which is mostly composed of daily vignettes on these two families that more often than not play as short sketches.

Although Greeners Grass sometimes struggles with its feature length, its deconstruction of the competition to have the better household is quite exquisite and enjoyable, making yet another strong debut at the Oldenburg Film Festival.

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