22-10-2019

Yellow Is The Warmest Color: Tsotsorkova's Heartwrenching Sister Is A Story Of Human Endurance Set In The Midst Of Golden Bulgarian Countryside

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Svetla Tsotsorkova's Sister is a moving chronicle of an industrious family working together to accept their controversial history. It presents a visual and thematic interconnection of its vivid characters and the unsympathetic environment of rural Bulgaria. The lives of the family members are difficult as they are the talk of the town. Their intimate confrontations are the thematic focal points that provoke their day-to-day activities. This slice-of-life piece will make you cry tears of compassion as well as reassess your own relationships.

Monika Naydenova delivers a powerful performance as Rayna, a character who often invents lies to stir up her everyday life. She spends time working in the family ceramic shop and having imaginative conversations with the customers. Her child-like, sexually inexperienced persona contrasts with her adventurous sister Kamelia (Elena Zamyarkova), an issue that informs the sisters' conflict over mutual love interest Miro, the town's Casanova. Zamyarkova's portrait of a diligent but spontaneous young woman brings a sense of structure to the household. Internationally acclaimed Svetlana Yancheva plays the role of the mother, a piercing woman whose lively romantic history overwhelms her daughters and makes Rayna obsess over their relationship. While she constantly looks back to the past to fuel her angst, it is notable that Tsotsorkova flirts with the character's opposing traits as well - Rayna carries an air of fragility that camouflages her strong emotional resilience. Similarly, Miro's surprisingly platonic perception of Rayna is a counterpoint to his macho demeanour. This reaffirms the idea that one's appearance is usually deceiving.

Visually, Tsotsorkova favors a pervading yellow in her compositions, starting with Rayna's blond hair and dominating presence. The director's studious treatment of Rayna's introspection is manifested in the choice of setting, with unending golden fields of wheat often filling the frame. The emphasis on self-reliance also shines through in the frequent close-ups of Rayna’s face, accompanied by the girl’s perceptive voice-over.

The idea of letting go is the central thematic concept. Rayna's painstakingly eventful coming-of-age process is underlined by scenes built around movement, like with cars passing by the family shop day and night. Characters are often positioned as either drivers or passengers, hinting at their advancing in individual directions. The clay figurines themselves, made from scratch by this family business, indicate that life is nothing but a succession of steps linked together. It is up to the characters to embrace their differing opinions and accept the past.

Tsotsorkova’s mesmerizing Sister is a detailed account of independent women finding their place within a misogynistic social environment. It is a visually compelling work that delves into one's perception of self. The director's anatomical approach to the characters' past and present is an exemplary appreciation for mental diversity.