Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Written & Directed by: #BérangèreMcNeese
Anna is 16, and lives with her young mother, Rebecca. It is the end of another summer defined by her mom's flings and conquests, but during which Anna begins to discover her own sensuality. As Anna learns she is pregnant, her mother sees herself in her daughter, at the same age, facing the same choices. And if Anna's decision implies a rupture in her relationship with Rebecca, she will find support where she least expects it.
Bérangère Mc Neese’s new short Matriochkas tackles young pregnancy and the rift affect it has on teenagers, shown through the life of 16 year old Anna. The film opens with scenes of romantic flings and a young mother checking up on her teenage daughter as she skips homework to spend time with a boy who climbs through the window. The tone for the short is set pretty early on. The seamless, high quality of the frames shine a light on the less-fortunate, but just “scraping by” individuals. We see a mother who makes enough to keep a roof over her head, and feed both herself and her child. As the film ticks along, around mid-way through, we notice something different about Anna.
This is when the focus flips to Rebecca, the mother of Anna, and how she reacts to the news of her child’s unexpected pregnancy. She sees herself in her, especially since she became pregnant at the very same age. Brief “discussions” of what will happen to the baby are had, and seemingly Rebecca has her own ideal path. Anna finds aid in someone, though. And from then on out, she feels oddly reborn.
Mc Neese’s direction is utterly brilliant, ushering in the gritty feel of classic indie cinema, whilst enjoying exploring the difficult topic. The acting from Héloïse Volle is fantastic, a focused and respectfully written character, performed effortlessly to a fine degree. The mother, performed by Victoire Du Boi, is also handled with good care and the interactions between the two seem raw and true. The film is captured through the lens of cinematographer Olivier Boonjing, encapsulating the classic look aforementioned.
Matriochkas isn’t perfect, though. It does document — though fictionally — an important aspect of life, especially that in young people, but it falters a little in terms of character attachment. Perhaps the time constraint pulls from the experience a little; and it’s usually the one issue I personally have with any short form media. Matriochkas does a good job with the characters, I just felt I needed some more time with them to gain a more emotional interest or investment.
That said, Matriochkas is a solid outing for the Belgian filmmaker and actress, and I’m sure she’ll continue to capture more topics in her unique way. This is worth your time.