Friday, March 2, 2007

Adoption, Hungary, 1975.

Directed by a feminist filmmaker, this movie has a female protagonist and emphasizes relationships among women. It also deals with gender, sexuality and the conflict between life stages. The black and white photography of the film highlights its textural, emotional qualities.
Kata, the main character of the film is a woodworking woman seemingly on the brink of middle age. She is very much like a spinster, only without a family to give her emotional support. As such, she feels lonely and wishes for a child to care for and fill the void in the life. Kata is unsuccessful to have a baby with Joska, the married man with whom she is having an affair. She later stumbles upon Anna, a teenage girl from a nearby orphanage.
It is through the relationship between Anna and Kata that the film explores issues of gender, life stages, and sexuality. Anna has a nebulous presence in Kata’s life as she stands-in somewhere within the range of a surrogate daughter and a lover or friend. While viewing the film, I felt a sexual between the two women, particularly during the first night when Anna is given a place to sleep and later gets into bed with Kata. The sexual tension however is very ambiguous because on screen it is not portrayed as erotic but seems to be arising simply from need to be held. This tension is compounded with the fact that during this scene the viewer is not sure whether or not Anna’s partner is male or female. When Anna brings her partner to Kata’s house and sex in the empty house, upon returning, Kata seems to have mixed emotions and jealousy when she discovers the young lovers in bed. The initial scene that introduces Anna’s lover makes him look very androgynous.
I think that the girl projects a lesbian tension because she may assume something about Kata’s spinster sexuality and plays on her vulnerability. It is obvious that she is aware of Kata’s discomfort of having to see the wistful interaction between the two lovers. I think that the film suggests through all of this that relationships among women can be simultaneously warm, cruel, and masochistic.


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