The interesting thing about seeing movies that are part of a film festival is that you never quite know what to expect. The films can range from the funny, to the adventurous, to the outright strange.
The interesting thing about seeing movies that are part of a film festival is that you never quite know what to expect. The films can range from the funny, to the adventurous, to the outright strange. And some are just impossible to classify, like Mermaid.
The film starts with Alice. She is 6 and lives with her mother in a shack-like house on a beach in Russia. Mom is a semi-professional slut, working menial jobs and renting rooms to sailors. Alice is a petulant brat, obsessed with two things: being a ballerina and the idea that her father will eventually come back to live with them. Her mother refuses to send her to ballet lessons, forcing Alice to take choir instead.
After torching her own house, Alice stops talking and gets put in a school for mentally challenged children. There, she begins to believe that she has magical powers that can manifest themselves if only she concentrates hard enough. But when her house is destroyed in the aforementioned storm, mom decides to move the family to Moscow.
The rest of the story continues when Alice is about 17 and living with her mother and grandmother in Moscow. Alice hates her new life of drudgery and plans to jump from a bridge. Instead, she saves a man from doing the same thing and after a strange morning after conversation, becomes his housekeeper.
Their friendship begins to follow a routine. She comes to clean on the days he’s having a party, he gets drunk and tries to commit suicide and she saves him with her magic powers. Oh, and his suicidal tendencies stem from the fact that he sells plots of land on the light side of the moon. Seriously.
Somehow, his friendship with Alice winds up bringing out his less self-indulgent side, though he never really knows her or cares about her any more than her mother does. Throw in a psychotic but very beautiful girlfriend and Alice is once again on her own.
Everyone is the film is distant and unfeeling toward Alice. Her grandmother never talks. Her mother gives her a hideously inappropriate birthday gift because her focus is on finding another man. When she meets a boy who’s interested in her, he’s a pig.
He tells her that he doesn’t have time for relationships or for caring about her feelings but he likes blowjobs.
At its core, this film is about karma and being careful about what you wish for. Mermaid is one of those movies for which film festivals exist. It is at times funny and sad, fantastic and realistic, but always interesting. Alice’s dream world is richly colored and happy, as dream worlds should be.
With an ending that no one expects, this film is a rich and quirky offering from this year’s festival lineup.