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Normal by Adele Tulli - Fragments 2019
Tuesday 4 June 2019, by
Normal is an experimental, non-fiction work, a series of observational vignettes displaying mundane actions carried out by men and women in Italy. Mum and baby fitness classes, hen dos, multiplayer video game sessions, performances of the rites of passage into adulthood that mark a woman’s femininity and a man’s masculinity. The film plays out chronologically. We start off with snapshots of kids undergoing their own initiations into their lives as a grown woman (having her ears pierced) and as a grown man (motorcycle race), then follow our girls and boys as they mature into screaming teenage popstar adulators and violent video game obsessives respectively, and then into adulthood with the usual rituals of club nights, beauty treatments, weddings and pregnancies. The superimposition of all these scenes only serves to highlight how extreme and destructive - I’m thinking more specifically of a pep talk by a marriage consultant teaching women how to treat and care for their husbands post-wedding - these expectations and behaviours can be. Another chilling highlight sees a young man schooled in how to handle "bitter women".
The power of the film lies in the accumulation and order of the sequences, edited to the tune of particularly evocative score. The first 5 or 10 minutes look unremarkable and mundane, but as they multiply, they start to paint a fuller, much bleaker picture, and weave together a powerful and eloquent critique of gender norms.
Normal (dir: Adele Tulli, Italy) screening Fri 14 Jun 18:30 at Genesis Cinema in London, as part of the Fragments Festival. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director.