Film Review: God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya

STUDIO: 1844 Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Terona Strugar Mitevska | CAST: Zorica Nusheva, Labina Mitevska, Simeon Moni Damevski, Suad Bekovski, Stefan Vusijic,
SPECS: NR | 100 min. | Foreign language drama comedy

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2

From Macedonia, God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya is a unique exploration of feminist uprising against sexist conservative values that doesn’t quite stick its ending.

32-year-old unemployed historian Petrunya (Zorica Nusheva, in her feature film debut) lives with her parents and struggles against an ultra-controlling mother who calls her a disgrace and a society that sees her as even less than that. Returning from an unsuccessful and misogynistic job interview, she comes across an annual Orthodox religious practice honoring the holiday of the Epiphany where a local priest throws a wooden cross into the river and hundreds of men dive after it for the chance to be blessed with good fortune and prosperity for the year. On impulse, Petrunya jumps in and snatches the cross, angering her competitors. How dare a woman take part in their ritual! But she won her cross and will not give it up.

As all hell breaks loose, Petrunya is taken into custody by the police who try, through condescending arrogance and coercion, to get her to return the cross. Her only ally is a female reporter (Labina Mitevska) who recognizes the important implications of Petrunya’s circumstances and hopes to use her story to challenge the status quo.

With a blend of drama and satirical humor, director Teona Strugar Mitevska (When the Day Had No Name) developed Petrunya with Elma Tataragic from a true story. It uniquely explores a woman’s defiance against the patriarchy and for the most part, it works well. Nusheva successfully pulls off Petrunya’s arch from insecurity to defiant strength as she holds her ground against the mounting pressure and physical harassment from a mob of men storming the police station.

It’s in the last quarter that the film starts to run out of steam, concluding hastily without much explanation behind the motivations of the character’s final actions. In contrast to the film’s female empowerment message, Petrunya seems more satisfied with the attention she received from a kind male officer than with the personal satisfaction of sticking by the courage of her convictions.

About Janine

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