×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears

Victoria Abril and Labina Mitevska play two femmes dwelling in very different corners of Europe whose parallel stories converge in the mannered, contrived drama "The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears."

With:
With: Victoria Abril, Labina Mitevska, Jean Marie Galey, Arben Bajraktaraj, Firdaus Nebi, Kaeliok Fonenmum Varka, Dimitar Gjorgjievski. (French, Macedonian, Turkish, English dialogue)

Victoria Abril and Labina Mitevska play two femmes dwelling in very different corners of Europe whose parallel stories converge in the mannered, contrived drama “The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears.” Writer-helmer Teona Strugar Mitsevska, co-star Labina’s sister, heavy-handedly compares and contrasts the lifestyles of an embittered Parisian and an oppressed but naturally plucky lass from the modernity-spurring Juruci people of rural Macedonia. Whimsical, magical-realist touches, such as a levitating Abril, fail to lift the pic free from its torpor, leaving distribs outside its co-producing nations unlikely to cry out for it.

Striking, confounding opening set in a Parisian apartment features what looks like Helena (Abril, once a muse of Pedro Almodovar, now curiously inexpressive) passionately kissing a young man named Noah (Dimitar Gjorgjievski), who starts to take things too far and tries to rape her before it’s revealed that he’s actually her son. Offering further evidence that this is one messed-up family, Noah confesses that his father, Emil (Jean Marie Galey), sexually abused him as a child, and then jumps off the balcony to his death right before Helena’s horrified eyes.

Meanwhile, in a mountainous Macedonian village, colorfully clad Ajsun (Labina Mitevska, from the helmer’s “I Am From Titov Veles”) lives with her patriarchal father, Ismail (Firdaus Nebi). Ajsun still pines for her lover, Lucian (Arben Bajraktaraj), who ran away after he knocked her up and Ismail threatened to kill him. In order to support their son, Ilkin (Kaeliok Fonenmum Varka, a cutie who spends most of the film hiding behind a Spider-Man mask), she sells homemade hooch, and tries to resist Ismail’s efforts to sell her off to a neighbor as a bride.

Back in Paris, Helena’s work as a parole officer brings her into contact with Lucian, and for opaque reasons only revealed later, she helps him skip bail and hides him in her own home. Skeptical about Emil’s protestations that he never molested Noah, and seemingly bent on divorcing him, Helena nevertheless insists he come with her on a hunting trip to Macedonia with Lucian in tow. Showing the intelligence of a bird agreeing to get a ride in a cat’s mouth, Emil agrees, paving the way for a credibility-stretching climax that will pull all the storylines together.

Helmer Mitsevska directs lenser to Matyas Erdely to either move the camera around a lot or plant it in front of the thesps for long, uncomfortable closeups; as a result, the pic feels perpetually stylized and off-center, although the Macedonian scenes seem more naturalistic and watchable, if only for anthropological interest alone. It doesn’t help that the palette is mostly one of sludge and sepulchral grays, apart from Ajsun’s peasant wardrobe of fiery reds and pinks, which none-too-subtly suggest her vibrancy and goodness. Apart from the scene in which Helena floats off the ground, there’s less whimsy here than in “Titov Veles,” but “Tears” still suffers from similar flaws.

Thesping is patchy, with Labina Mitevska faring better than Abril, and Gjorgjievski making a big impression before he’s killed off in the first scene.

The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears

Macedonia-Germany-Slovenia-Belgium

Production: A Sisters and Brother Mitevski, Ostlicht, Vertigo Emotionfilm, Entre Chien et Loup, Luminary Media production. (International sales: Urban Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Labina Mitsevska, Marcel Lenz, Guido Schwab, Danijel Hocevar, Sebastien Delloye, Diana Elbaum. Executive co-producer, Ana Jordanova. Directed, written by Teona Strugar Mitsevska.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Matyas Erdely; editor, Nicolas Gaster; production designer, Vuk Mitevski, Stephan von Tresckow; costume designer, Monika Lorber; sound (Dolby Digital), Paul Heymans, Fred Meert; supervising sound editor, Meert; re-recording mixer, Philippe Baudhuin. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Special), Feb. 11, 2012. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Victoria Abril, Labina Mitevska, Jean Marie Galey, Arben Bajraktaraj, Firdaus Nebi, Kaeliok Fonenmum Varka, Dimitar Gjorgjievski. (French, Macedonian, Turkish, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    Film Review: 'Vice'

    From Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, the leaders of right-wing Republican politics have tended to be fire-breathers (or, in the case of Reagan, a saber rattler who could make snake oil taste like honey). But Dick Cheney broke that mold. Speaking in soft terse corporate tones, with the precision squint of someone [...]

  • Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones'On the

    Why Armie Hammer Cooked for the Cast of 'On the Basis of Sex'

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to her hometown on Sunday for the New York premiere of “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic starring Felicity Jones tells the Supreme Court justice’s origin story. The 85-year-old Brooklynite received a standing ovation when she entered the Walter Reade Theater — a testament to the Notorious RBG’s rock-star status. Ginsburg [...]

  • Paul McCartney, Emma Stone Take Aim

    Paul McCartney, Emma Stone Take Aim at Bullying With 'Who Cares' Short

    Paul McCartney and Emma Stone get surreal for a good cause in the short film inspired by McCartney’s new anti-bullying song “Who Cares,” which held its premiere Sunday night at Beverly Hills’ Fine Arts Theater. In the short directed by Brantley Guitierrez (a longtime McCartney tour photographer) and choreographer Ryan Heffington, the music legend and [...]

  • Black Panther Production Design

    Netflix Isn't Killing Movie Theaters, Study Shows

    Netflix isn’t killing movie theaters. At least, that’s the take-away from a new study conducted by EY’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics group, which finds that people who go to movies in theaters more frequently also consume more streaming content. That flies in the face of the “conventional wisdom” of box office sages, who grimly ascribe [...]

  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Weaves Inclusive

    The Secret Power of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Is Inclusion

    In a year that gave us films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” this weekend’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” delivers one more home run for underrepresented groups in media in 2018. An animated film that takes advantage of Sony’s piece of the Marvel pie, “Spider-Verse” not only puts a mixed-race, middle-class teenager in the [...]

  • Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges, who stars in

    Jeff Bridges to Receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at 2019 Golden Globes

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that Jeff Bridges will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 76th Golden Globes on Jan. 6, 2019. Bridges has starred in films like “The Big Lebowski,” “Crazy Heart,” “True Grit,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” More Reviews Film Review: 'Vice' Concert Review: Childish Gambino Takes L.A. [...]

  • Charlotte Rampling Euphoria

    Berlin Film Festival: Charlotte Rampling to Receive Honorary Golden Bear

    Oscar-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling, whose career has spanned more than 100 film and television roles, will be honored with a special Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. The fest will also pay homage to Rampling by screening a selection of her work, including Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982), Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” (2003) [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content