Alone at my Wedding (2018) | Acid – Cannes Film Festival 2018

May 14th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Martha Bergman; Cast: Alina Ioana Serban, Tom Vermeir, Rebecca Anghel, Viorica Tudor, Marian Samu; Belgium 2018, 120 min.

Martha Bergman’s debut feature is a wild ride, undertaken by young mother Pamela – a brilliant Alina Ioana Serban – a Roma from a small Romanian village, who is picked up on the internet by a shy, middle-aged Belgian.

We first meet Pamela in the middle of a freezing winter. She lives in a basic hut with her grandmother (Tudor) who looks after her baby daughter (Anghel), dragging the poor mite around unceremoniously in all conditions. 18 year old Marian (Sama) is  also called on to look after the baby, despite his desperation to leave the village, and the country altogether.

This picture of discontent is tempered by the arrival in her life of French speaking Belgian Bruno (Vermeir), and Pamela makes a swift departure to be with him, leaving Pamela with her grandmother. Pamela’s French is very poor, and Bruno, who is stiff but well meaning (“I respect you, you are not a commodity”), has great difficulties in communicating with her. Not content with spending her time with her new boyfriend, Pamela starts looking looking for a job and Bruno teaches his wife-to-be French. 

Bruno seems somewhat of an ingenue where romance concerns but soon the couple are sleeping together. But Pamela cannot bear to be contained, she has a one-night stand with another Roma in a car, and the two are picked up by the police. When Pamela is returned to Bruno, he is angry that the police arrested her. But when he finds out why, he throws her out, but soon relents. His parents arrive, and there is an embarrassing dance scene to Roma music. But what really makes Pamela happy is the arrival of a brand new television, she seems to be a creature of simple pleasures.  

Also co-written by fellow director Katell Quillevere, the script is refreshingly different; there are some dream sequences between Pamela and her grandmother, who dies, soon after singing the titular song: and Pamela is far from complimentary calling the old woman “a whore, like her mother”. All said and done, it is Serban who carries the feature, as much untamed as she is unfocused, Pamela is always ready for another opportunity for mischief-making, like the teenager she really is. DoP Jonathan Ricquebourg (The Death of Louis XIV) uses vibrant visuals in the scenes featuring Pamela, underlining her vivacity, and a more sombre palette for the grey reality Pamela holds in contempt. Whilst sometimes uneven, Bergman shirks narrative conventions for an upbeat tale of Roma life, in contrast to the usual victim stories we have come to expect.



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