SXSW Film Review: Women Do Cry
Bulgarian drama offers a lot to chew on, and a lot to admire
By Jenny Nulf,
2:35PM, Fri. Mar. 18, 2022
Vesela Kazakova and Mina Mileva’s Women Do Cry takes a moment for every character to fall into place, but when all the women of the film gather around a table for lunch with the patriarch of the family, suddenly everything clicks.
There’s something about sharing a meal that instantly makes you feel at home, sitting at the table too, drinking wine and munching on bread.
By this point in the film, the audience knows something many of the people at the table don’t: Sonja, played by the brilliant Maria Bakalova, has HIV and is currently in denial about her need for treatment. The pressure builds and erupts, resulting in Sonja accidentally slicing open her arm on a broken glass, and running away from the table ashamed, afraid and lost.
Along the same line as films like Mustang and The Virgin Suicides, Women Do Cry focuses on two generations of women in a family all grieving over the death of the matriarch, mother to some and grandmother to others. This all takes place after Bulgaria rejects to ratify the Instanbul Convention, in which the use of the word “gender” created controversy for a human rights treaty against domestic violence. Women Do Cry tackles the complexity of this fight within the confines of the film’s central family, taking time to develop each woman’s struggles with mental health in the family, many of those struggles which trickled down from their father beating their late mother.
Kazakova and Mileva layer in metaphor after metaphor, building a film that is challenging and rough to watch, but ultimately a cathartic experience. There’s a beautiful scene in the film where all the women shed their clothes and go swimming in the river, giddy with laughter, relieved that for one moment, they can all be together and be happy. It’s the moments where the women are all together that make the grisly, disturbing scenes feel balanced. Women Do Cry offers a lot to chew on, and a lot to admire.
Alamo South Lamar, Friday, March 18, 7:30pm