02-07-2011

My Sex Life / Viata mea sexuala

Perspectives
Dir. Cornel George Popa

A very tired woman strolls before the video camera in the Budapest park with the microphone attached to her skirt from behind. She is a single mother of 26. A guy whom she knew in the nursery school and has completely forgotten since, learns that she is employed in a sex shop and persuades her to record a video about her work which is still shocking in the post-Soviet space. In the film we will see part of this poorly shot footage, where Dorina – that is her name – will introduce her work as very similar to that of an accountant. The rest of the movie, showing Dorina’s everyday life in the familiar worn-out interiors of a 10-storied block of flats and her work, is composed of mostly static digital shots. The result is something like a mixture of “Romanian wave” and Godard of the time of his social questionnaires like “2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle”.

But the barely perceptible comic exaggeration in the gait of the woman with the microphone should have put us on our guard. Soon we will discover that those around her are super temperamental and easily recognizable prototypes. Like the familiar character of the neighbor who nags the janitress about the elevator which is always out of order and concludes her machine-gun utterance with the fail-safe maxim: “Some day my dog will piss on me while I go down from my 10th floor”. Like the psychological portrait of the mother who fakes total helplessness before her 35-year-old son: “Have you brought me something tasty, dearest?” – “You can’t eat sweets!” “I don’t mean sweets, no… Tomatoes! I haven’t tasted tomatoes for a long time…” Or the social characteristic of Dorina’s father with his endless complaints about how it was under the Communists and where we are going now. Heading to the shop, he is indignant: “Do I look like someone who needs a list?”. And of course he forgets to buy milk for the 18-months-old grandchild but most certainly remembers to buy a bottle for himself, which he skillfully (in his opinion) conceals and from which he even more secretly sips and snarls back turning the air blue.

When we have had enough fun and have believed in the verisimilitude of a dozen of these characters, then at night they will all find themselves in Dorina’s sex shop and all of it will prove a superstructure over the Eduardo De Filippo-like high-strung situation comedy set in one place. For example, Dorina’s suitor, the flabby homosexual mister Nastase, sprouting bouquets and poetry is a typical comic womanizer from Austro-Hungarian operetta, who has finally come clean with his orientation and is sporting a gay-porno cassette in a plastic bag. I have no doubt that on Romanian TV this movie will have a long and happy life and people not only of Dorina’s age but of the age of her baby will nostalgically watch it some 25 years hence. Neither the pitiful cheapness nor the smart allusions to the cinema of the past years and far away countries will be a problem. Similarly in this country the former did not hamper the popularity of the rightfully beloved TV comedy “Cherchez la femme”, and the latter – of the movie “Hello, I am your Aunt!”

Alexey Vasiliev