"Faithfulness" is released - Russian melodrama of Nigina Sayfullaeva about marriage on the brink, adultery and female sensuality. Fidelity, one of the few works in the history of local cinema with a realistic depiction of sex, has already been named one of the most daring and honest Russian films of the year. Film critic Alisa Tayozhnaya watched Loyalty and found many urgent challenges in it both for viewers and for domestic cinema.
ATTENTION: the text contains spoilers.
TEXT: Alisa Taezhnaya, author of the telegram channel "See once"
There is nothing more recognizable than two married adults who have almost no time for each other. Lena and Seryozha - a typical couple of very different young people - have been living together for several years, but have completely lost mutual understanding. Their cooling is in tune with the restrained colors of their Kaliningrad apartment, where both, quite popular and successful, live side by side, not noticing each other and dropping simple everyday phrases into the void. Lena works as a gynecologist in an expensive private clinic - these sterile rooms are so reminiscent of the sleek surroundings of her own home. Seryozha is an actor performing on stage with fanciful melodramatic texts, behind which there is at least an invented passion. The ability to live other people's outbursts during performances slightly masks his frustration in marriage with his beloved woman, where at some point everything went wrong.
The misfortune of Lena and Seryozha is not maximized: after all, this is not "Dislike". Both are about thirty, their eyes have not yet extinguished, there is still no cruelty in their everyday coldness, but something has changed, perhaps irreversibly - and both feel it, but cannot express it. Sex broke in their marriage, but they don't know how to talk about it offensively. While the husband sleeps, the wife masturbates with guilt and pain in her eyes. While the wife disappears at work, the husband is rehearsing with a beautiful actress: there are kisses on the stage, and the rise, and the tension of unresolved. Since Lena is afraid to ask Seryozha directly what is happening in his life (and she herself does not know), she looks out of the corner of her eye at the screen of his phone. There, romantic messages with hearts flash from the actress of his performance, and the habitually indifferent husband closes the bathroom door behind him. What's going on and when did it start? Is loyalty tested by jealousy? And does jealousy mean self-doubt or a struggle for feelings that are important to you?
Coming up with Fidelity, a young Russian director Nigina Sayfullaeva takes as heroes her conditional peers - young people born in the 80s, whose growing up fell on a strange time, when Russia from a country where there is no sex, literally in a few years came to the chaos of vulgar advertising, sexist anecdotes and porn. Sexual freedom appeared formally, but was not articulated. Teenage magazines seized in a newspaper stall, a couple of parental videotapes, crookedly written "masturbation" and "ejaculation", a taboo on official sex education and careful advice from parents about tampons and condoms (God forbid, if there were any at all) - this is how Lena, Seryozha and their peers grew up … Grew up and got married. In their twenties, or maybe a little later, without knowing what kind of sex they like, what their partner really wants, what is the name of what they want to try, and what can generally be done with their bodies.
I don't have a habit of talking, my body is new,
and regular pleasure seems like something wicked
Lena's senior colleague, the head physician of her clinic, in a confidential conversation talks about the gender socialization of her generation - men over forty.At some point, he was tormented by his conscience for thinking about others, and then “began to cheat like a real man,” because “not to cheat is youthful maximalism. In sex, everyone is unhappy, because sex is what is not allowed, not what is allowed. " It's easier to change than to talk to your partner about what you want and what doesn't suit you. It's easier to dash to the side and return to the matrimonial bed as if nothing had happened, so as not to “destroy the family” and separate the “trifles” from the “real”. Lena goes to several men in turn, because of suspicions of her husband's infidelity and a desire to return her body and prove something to herself. Seryozha never really cheated on her, but he was also exhausted by their gradual distance.
Lena's dilemma is that "trifles" help her understand herself and her desires and at least hear her fears a little. And the "present" is boring, insipid, painful and has nothing to do with finding oneself. Marriage is a collectively endorsed goal, a "decent" life with duty and rules, where nothing exists other than heteronormative monogamy. Sexual self-discovery is the territory of something so forbidden that it is difficult even to imagine in an average marriage. Declaring pleasure is scary - it is better to go to the side and leave your adventures in the chest, throwing away the key.
"Fidelity" with several bed scenes is a manifesto of a generation of lost sexuality in a country where they either make dirty jokes about sex, or advise to leave it "in the bedroom", or discuss it in a half-whisper with the closest friends. Because talking about the problems in having sex with a partner in front of others, you most often expose and, possibly, betray him. In a country where many men do not know anything about ovulation, and women under stress sign up for courses on anal sex and blowjob in order to "tie a man", sex in the mass consciousness is still associated with taboo, and not with joy and satisfaction, corporeality does not language, while erotica has screen representation. Sayfullaeva's film is the first and very cautious step towards talking about what worries every adult and dissatisfied person in sexual relations. Perhaps not talking out loud, but quietly reflecting on the viewer with himself - the starting point for reflection on his own sex life.
Closed and constrained, the main characters seem dumb with each other, neurotic and as if asking for condemnation. What prevents confidential communication instead of cheating out of suspicion? What prevents you from taking the initiative, when a loved one breathes and sleeps next to you every day, never leaving anywhere? But everything falls into place when we imagine the formation of sexuality and the maturation of Lena and Seryozha - the scenario of the majority of thirty-year-olds in Russia. Their depression is not personal, but generational, their wordlessness is explainable. The first awkward sex somewhere on the list in someone else's apartment or at home, when the parents left for the dacha - maybe drunk, ridiculous and, most likely, without pleasure. A keen sexual interest - something from adolescence and college age, when it's time to peddle, experiment and decide on something atypical. Then an early marriage, which begins with falling in love and is fueled by passion for some time. Later, everyone begins to live their own life and work hard to achieve personal goals. Maybe at this moment two live separately for the first time and can afford to have sex as they like and in a comfortable environment. But there is no habit of talking, your body is not familiar, and prolonged and regular pleasure seems to be something indecent, if not vicious.
and having lived together for several years, the heroes of the drama never
did not discuss
what loyalty means to them, while
did not face
A few scenes of sex between Lena and Seryozha are enough to understand how little place in their lives is bodily contact, despite the mutual unconditional need.So flirting and passion on the side seem to be the only way out, and suspicion is converted into jealousy: without the spoken feelings, it is impossible to understand where your suspicions are justified, and where they are the result of a personal deadlock and unasked questions to yourself. Even Lena's medical education and her daily contact with women's bodies did not bring her closer to understanding her own needs. As well as the bodily profession of Seryozha, it does not convert at home into rapprochement with his wife. The bitterness and believability of Loyalty is that most of the most unpleasant and revealing conversations are conducted not at the first doubts, but after dramatic steps. And the very fact of having sex with other people is perceived as an unequivocal defeat in marriage, sin, guilt and something shameful that would definitely hurt a partner. After getting married and living together for several years, the heroes of the drama never once discussed what loyalty meant to them until they faced infidelity.
The director's caution reveals, perhaps, an unconscious fear of the pioneer: everything “shocking” that happens in “Fidelity” is the norm for Western European cinema, which comprehends sexuality since the first decade of the sexual revolution. The distance of Nigina Sayfullaeva and the coolness, in which the main actors Yevgeny Gromova and Alexander Pal exist on the screen, are quiet steps on the fingers on the sixth part of the land, where there was neither "Eyes Wide Shut", "Love", or "Life of Adele », No films by Catherine Breillat and Claire Denis. The Fidelity actress talks about sex a little distantly, the topic of female sexuality in the Russian world of celebrities is as taboo as possible, and talking about sex in the format of personal experience is unusual, inconvenient and completely against the rules outside the niche media - that's why information about sex is now the first the queue is answered by independent publications, blogs or podcasts. Even heteronormative sex is too wild a beast for the mainstream to approach without locking it in a sanctimonious cage. "Fidelity" is one of the most important domestic films about a woman's awareness of her sexual needs, for which they used to be punished ("Forgive me" by Viktor Merezhko), shamed ("Little Faith" by Vasily Pichul), which were marginalized ("Portrait at Twilight" by Angelina Nikonova), joked (the dilogy "About Love" by Anna Melikyan) or harshly dissected ("Intimate Places" by Natalia Merkulova and Alexei Chupov).
Lena from "Faithfulness" lacks texture and reflection, but neither the author's condemnation nor sarcasm fell on her - only the support of a contradictory and not guilty woman who bears the burden of her era and her country. Women, perhaps distant and internally misogynous, but very believable and familiar. Director Nigina Sayfullaeva and screenwriter Lyubov Mulmenko, it seems, without planning this themselves, made a film of liberation for those who have long ceased to hear their bodies. Those who have already walked Lena's path or grew up in a context where her hesitation simply does not exist are rightly scolded by the cinema for too bold strokes, ragged remarks and the heroine, even in the credits, is ashamed of her self. But it must be admitted that this is the first Russian film about female sexuality, which is not afraid to call dissatisfaction a basic problem. And in order to see oral sex on the screen, you no longer need voice-overs or subtitles. The cinema is timid, but necessary - unfortunately, to a greater extent than I want to admit.
PHOTOS: WDSSPR, TNT Premier Studios