Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari Screen 5 articles

Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari

2012

Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari Poster
  • Just when something compels our attention, it evaporates, and there is a fair amount of baggy material in the middle. But if we consider Celestial Wives to be a kind of living showcase, Fedorchenko’s contribution to the excavation and revivification of Mari culture and religion (perhaps a cinematic museum exhibit called “Weird Sex on the Volga”), then the film’s faults are completely forgivable.

  • Love the idea, love the goofy/sinister tone, love the way everything is a sign, part of some hidden code of sexual superstitions... but, when the final roll-call came around, I struggled to recall what fully half of those women had done in their stories, because they hadn't doneanything. Needed way more actual connecting the dots, dramatically speaking, and more wild invention like the tweeting (not Tweeting) vagina.

  • The result is a hodgepodge of quickly constructed anecdotes, some revelatory and droll... others uncomfortable in what seems like regressive female politics... While the accumulation of stories and incidents never results in being more than a sum of its parts, Fedorchenko is a strong voice in contemporary Russian cinema and one to keep a close eye on, not least of all for his ability to capture the Russian landscape in all its variant seasonal beauty.

  • Director Alexey Fedorchenko, who made the elegiac ethnographic drama Silent Souls, has an eye for striking imagery and an admirable interest in disappearing customs. But Celestial Wives often feels like little more than a string of bawdy-surreal gags, as though Apichatpong Weerasethakul had mounted a remake of Movie 43.

  • Many of the bits don’t make any rational sense, or even necessarily “go anywhere,” but that’s part of the movie’s overall goofy charm; like 69 Love Songs, it’s more enjoyable as a bravura stunt, experienced in its entirety, than “track” by “track.”