Princess of Egypt: On the edge of maternal sanity
- The directorial debut of Jan Forsström portrays the edge of sanity of eager parental protection and self-atonement in this minimalistic yet effective drama
The directorial debut of Jan Forsström, The Princess of Egypt [+see also:
interview: Jan Forsström
film profile], was screened out of competition at the International Film Festival of Bratislava in the first and second features section. Forsström has already built a solid career as a screenwriter so his progress toward directorial ambitions seems a natural choice. Similarly to Swedish film Eat Sleep Die [+see also:
interview: China Ahlander
interview: Gabriela Pichler
interview: Nermina Lukac
film profile], the Finnish screenwriter-cum-director hovers around the theme of the lack of employment opportunities in the wake of the global economic crisis, but continues to investigate an individual crisis.
Marja tries to make ends meet by taking night shifts in a newspaper delivery service, apparently mostly carried out by foreigners. During the day, she sleeps and strives to raise her little daughter as best as she can. As a single parent and lacking a solid income, life is a constant struggle. Things are about to go from bad to worse when she meets her ex-boyfriend whose obsessive demeanour about whether he is the father of Marja´s child will drive her to the edge of sanity.
The downward spiral starts as an innocent meeting and climaxes in an insanely overreacted act of self-defence. The spotlight is on Emmi Parviainen as the mother senselessly protecting her daughter even though the potential father is not abusive yet very persistent. The backdrop of the poor living conditions still remains relevant, but the theme of personal crisis grows throughout the film. Princess of Egypt approaches a coming-of-age and character study as Marja was too young to have a kid on her own, so she must prematurely face the grim reality and undertake petty jobs to cover basic living costs. The figure of the mother is somehow double-coded as on the one hand she is driven by a sort of self-made-man instinct to do as best as she can even under unflattering conditions while at the same time she becomes more and more possessive with her daughter as the only adamant pillar of her life.
The whole film, analogous to the protagonist, operates on two smooth planes. Firstly, the social one is constructed on the ground of a character study and coming-of-age story to clearly depict a situation after the crisis in a sort of zeitgeist manner. The second plane is a psychological one portraying a personal breakdown almost in the template of the gangster genre. At a certain point, the director uses the very same formula that Eran Creevy used in the finale of Shifty [+see also:
film profile]. While in Shifty the climax was the result of intense timing and accumulated thrill, in Forsström´s case it is the desperate act of a paranoid person propelled by a motley of lower social status and fanatic and selfish zeal to protect her own child.
Princess of Egypt was produced by Making Movies Yo.
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