Two single women about to give birth forge a deep bond.
"How long have you been in for?” Aila asks a young father as they stand over an incubator, a just-born child fidgeting inside. “Two months,” he replies, as if they were cellmates. Indeed, the intensive care unit in The Great Maiden’s Blush seems more like a prison than a hospital wing, familial bonds trapping new mothers in more ways than one.
Aila (Renee Lyons) and Bunny (Miriama McDowell) begin this story – directed by Wellington film-makers Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader – as guarded ward-mates, eventually forming a deep, almost intangible bond through the impossible circumstances that forced them together.
There is an intensely impressionistic sense to Bosshard and Loader’s work: things become blurred, like a half-forgotten dream, as we go back to uncover the source of these character’s aches – ethereal images played against the cold white gowns and linoleum of the ward.
Lyons and McDowell pour a wellspring of melancholy and world-weariness into their performances, unblemished by any need for gloss or artifice. There are screams of labour and flinching moments at the breast pump. They are tangible and truthful characters.
The film (whose allusive title is given meaning by the closing scenes) was made on a sliver-thin budget. But the directors make the most of the limitations, proving that care and dedication are worth far more than any blank cheque. ••••
IN CINEMAS MAY 5
Florence Foster Jenkins
Comedy that charms with compassion rather than mocking the ambition of this legendary 1940s wannabe diva as she prepares for her Carnegie Hall debut. [Helene Wong] •••
Notes to Eternity
Palestine and Israel seen through the eyes of four famously dissenting commentators. Wide-ranging and loosely structured but a valuable angle on the conflict. [HW] •••½
The Man Who Knew Infinity
Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons essay an often touching if episodic Brahmin-to-Oxford, WWI-era story of racism and pure mathematics. [HW] •••
Captain America: Civil War
Honouring the Marvel films’ capacity for both humour and visually spectacular action sequences, this cash cow keeps rolling jauntily on. [James Robins] •••½
Graphic-novel style breathes new life into the words and memories of six Anzacs. [HW] ••••½
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Tina Fey tries to go serious as a war reporter in Afghanistan, but despite entertaining performances, the comedy and drama undercut each other. [HW] •••½
Eddie the Eagle ••½
The Boss •••
Noma: My Perfect Storm ••½
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