Writers: Sylwester Piechura, Aleksandra Swierk, Daria Woszek
Stars: Grazyna Misiorowska, Helena Sujecka, Janusz Chabior, Sylwester Piechura
By Nicole Ackman
In “Marygoround,” one woman undergoes a transformation that changes the course of her life. This black comedy drama was directed by Daria Woszek with a script by Woszek, Sylwester Piechura, and Aleksandra Swierk. The Polish film follows a woman named Mary who undergoes treatment for menopause and experiences some surprising side effects. It definitely is a unique and sometimes strange film, but it is an interesting look at a late sexual awakening.
Mary (Grazyna Misiorowska) collects statues of the Virgin Mary, perhaps a symbol of hope that she herself will lose her virginity despite being fifty years old. Her gynecologist prescribes her hormone treatment patches as she is beginning menopause and they seem to spark her interest in the sex life she never had. The scene in which she awkwardly answers questions from her doctor about her habits and sex life is uncomfortably familiar and Woszek manages to capture the clinical oddity of the experience. Add in the arrival of her vivacious and messy niece, Helena (Helena Sujecka), who has come to crash at her apartment after another failed relationship, and the reserved Mary begins to let loose.
Mary’s niece is a liberated woman, unafraid to talk openly about sex, which clearly makes her aunt comfortable. But Mary begins reading romance novels and watching videos, seemingly as a way to experience what she never has had in her real life. She even imagines herself as though in a sexy music video, contrasting with her fairly demure behavior in real life. At Mary’s job in a market, her manager is pursued by several female customers, adding to the idea that everyone is having these experiences except for her. We also see small moments of insecurity about either her body or her situation, which are well executed. There is a fair amount of nudity in the film, largely centered around the many baths that Mary takes.
“The film certainly is fascinating and thought-provoking, but some audiences may struggle to connect with it.”
The film blurs the line of what is real versus what is imagined or a hallucination brought on by Mary’s hormone patches. The film seems to exist in a larger-than-life world, which is particularly demonstrated by the exaggerated coworkers and customers at the store Mary works at. Each of them seems to dance on the edge of satire and lends an absurdist feeling to the film. There are also strange little touches like a llama outside of her apartment building and a painting of Jesus illuminating. The last thirty minutes of the film take it to the next level and are honestly a lot to handle as I constantly had to ask myself if what I was seeing was the truth or imagined, which can be a bit exhausting.
Among the film’s assets are a unique score and fantastic chemistry between Grazyna and Sujecka as the aunt and niece pair. The film certainly is fascinating and thought-provoking, but some audiences may struggle to connect with it. The characters aren’t given much, if any, backstory and the message of the film is a bit murky underneath all of the absurdity. It certainly feels like a European film in its sensibilities, which isn’t a negative thing but rather a reason that some audiences (particularly Americans like myself) might struggle with it. All in all, Woszek takes on this story about virginity in a fresh way unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.