Home: Our Review of ‘Housekeeping for Beginners’

Posted in Theatrical by - April 12, 2024
Home: Our Review of ‘Housekeeping for Beginners’

Gay people make the best lovers and parents, and the former is more complex than regular straight people love. Ali (Samson Selim) has some one on one time with her boyfriend Toni’s (Vladimir Tintor) ‘landlady’ Dita (Anamaria Marinca). She explains that is her client as a social worker but that doesn’t explain the other people at home. Ali, a Romani living in North Macedonia, is wondering this about Suada (Alina Serban), who turns out to be Dita’s bisexual girlfriend. I presume bisexual because Suada has two Romani children, Vanesa (Mia Mustafa) and Mia (DZada Selim).

Suada is also dying of pancreatic cancer, and before she dies, she makes Dita give a promise. She wants Dita to legally adopt her children, who will have more rights carrying ‘white’ surnames than Roma ones. This means that Toni has to become a father for kids he never consented to having. This specifically means caring for Vanesa, a teen whose outside influences are disrupting this household. There’s also Elena (Sara Klimoska) and her random band of lesbians who share childcare duties with Ali.

This is the plot of a film where director-writer Goran Stolevski completes a three film run and for context, this is his third film in two years and it’s the best one. Housekeeping for Beginners has more in common tonally with the noisy first half of Of An Age. But he modulates the chaos this time around as it explains a chaos that feels homey. I use the word ‘homey’ because these characters are strangers who vibe with each other even during initial encounters with each other.

I’ve probably said this before about other films but Housekeeping for Beginners‘ quiet moments complement the loud. Those opposing forces come to a head anytime members of the household must physically leave their home. Those scenes have Dita performing a heterosexual, white normalcy. There’s also a big dynamic change where everyone else must play along with her. When they don’t, the tough side of Dita shows up, and Marinca deserves credit in being able to show Dita’s layers.

Stolevski’s foray into this kind of vibe cinema works well for showing the polar opposite of this kind of family, a family that has a lot of wayward homosexuals who play with gender. They experience joy in knowing that heterosexuality and whiteness are constructs. That fun specifically shows up in scenes like Dita and Toni’s fake marriage and a reception taking in palce in their home. Stolevski’s handheld camerawork and warm cinematography complements the dynamic of a family that chooses each other.

Watch Housekeeping for Beginners in select Canadian theatres.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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