Under the Sea

Do you guys ever watch Sundance? The channel on TV plays really good films, and I’ve stumbled upon some of my favorites like Fish Tank and Mermaid, a Russian film directed by  Anna Melikyan (don’t worry, there are subtitles) that I watched randomly when I was procrastinating on work in seventh grade. The main character, Alisa, starts off living in a sea side town in Russia with her mother and grandmother. Her father is a sailor who apparently is “not coming back” (though you get the sense the whole story is a bullshit one told by Alisa’s mother to keep her quiet.) Alisa’s mother, a fat, ignorant woman who does not give a damn about Alisa so long as she’s alive and within visual range, decides that they are moving to Moscow, where she meets a man named Aleksandr, who she saves from suicide and whose love she desperately needs.

Alisa (Mariya Shalaeva) adheres to a lot of thoughts teenagers engage in. I think the way she was portrayed, as someone who’s obviously smart, but also naive and passively critical of the people around her was really…accurate? I don’t want to make it out like a physics lab report, but I kind of adore her character.

There’s a lot of gray in the film too…I remember watching it and thinking about how the beach in the town and Moscow itself were all very gray and washed out, and when Alisa dyes her hair green, I suppose she provides contrast because she meets Aleksandr soon afterwards.

The film also utilizes a lot of interesting shots that are basically straight from Alisa’s mind, which combine both the present and the past all simultaneously but still connect them with a common thread.

The other thing I found weird about the film is that its genre isn’t exactly defined. While there are obviously movies which clearly have a genre (Silence of the Lambs, Batman) Mermaid really doesn’t. I can’t really tell if its fluid genre is a big factor, but some describe it as a “drama comedy” which bothers me, because I felt sad the whole time. Obviously there are uplifting moments and apathetic scenes, but for the most part I really felt sad.

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