Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘Roberta’

Posted in Hot Docs 2023 by - May 07, 2023
Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘Roberta’

Roberta Dell cleans her boss’ bathroom, the kind of chore that one does as both a babysitter and a housekeeper. She, however, doesn’t look like a person who takes such a job because she has both a bhindi and dreadlocks on. She keeps the former but not the latter. The titular subject in Roberta, the documentary captures her as she puts on different hats as someone living a precarious life in their twenties. She changes her hairstyle, break up with guys on social media. She moves apartments and get new pets who deal with the ones she currently has.

Life during one 20s is not necessarily stable, and Roberta captures, again, the precarity of early adulthood. The documentary, through careful observation, picks up enough pieces to get a good enough sense of its titular subject. She speaks at least three languages, if not four, enough for German headhunters to find her before that opportunity falls apart. Some pieces, however, are missing here. The documentary shows Roberta talking to her mother on the phone, the latter helping her with one of her moves, but it leaves their relationship at that. Expanding on their relationship may make things more illuminating.

As I write that though, this small stakes documentary becomes more fascinating as it depicts a woman between phases. It’s astounding that she’s gotten far enough in life without finishing Grade 9. She also faces a lot of roadblocks as someone who relies on minor addictions to get through the day. Nonetheless, it’s better late than never for her. Roberta, in turn, depicts its subject honestly yet sympathetically, clutter and all. Repeat viewings reveal someone who’s working to get to her next step and sees a thousand more with optimism. Despite of everything, this documentary shows to let dream come true.

  • Release Date: 5/7/2023
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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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