So I had an opportunity to meet up with a Fellow member of the Lamb at the AFI Fest yesterday. Howard Casner and I are the two senior sheep in the flock so to speak. Most of the other lambs are half our ages. We were talking on a podcast a few weeks ago and he mentioned he would be attending the AFI Fest in Hollywood. Since Monday was a school holiday, I was able to accept his offer of a couple of tickets to screenings at the festival. We greeted each other and had a nice conversation at McDonalds before getting in line for the first of the two films.
“Lemonade” is a Romanian production filmed in the U.S. and featuring actress Mãlina Manovici. She plays Mara, an immigrant who has married an American that she took care of at a convalescent hospital. She is seeking a green card and has arranged for her son to join her in the States. This is a stark tale of immigrant struggles against bureaucracy, culture clash and toxic male hegemony. It is a well told story but bleak for a number of reasons.
It is easy to appreciate the desire to locate to the U.S. when your economic opportunities are limited. Mara seems to have lucked out by connecting with a kind man who seems to care for her and is trying to cope with some medical issues at the same time. There are a number of hoops she must jump through as a result of the marriage. The Immigration agent investigating her case asks pointed questions of her and it’s not long before some shocking unpleasantness rears its ugly head. The main issue I had with the film concerns the way in which the difficulties start stacking up. In addition to potential and real exploitation, she is swept up in a child neglect case, her husband is not very understanding about the abuse that has been directed at her, and the strategy her lawyer recommends is full of danger and potential humiliation.
Manovici is suitably hopeful and naive as she confronts a pretty dark vision of America. The emotional scenes are handled well and she is appropriately defiant and cowed in a long conversation in an automobile. As loathsome as this encounter is, another one is coming up that will make you equally sick. As is typical in the American system, justice cannot be had simply because a rule or law has been broken. Her attorney sums it up well when he explains that victims get the benefit of the doubt and the system protects them more than it punishes the guilty. There is a little bit of convoluted hope at the end of the story and the aphorism that gives the movie it’s title is revealed.