Film Review: HOUSEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS (2023): Goran Stolevski’s Drama is Moving but Feels Like it Could Have Used Some Polishing SuperNayr

Dezada Salim Anamaria Marinca Housekeeping For Beginners

Housekeeping for Beginners Review

Housekeeping for Beginners (2023) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Goran Stolevski and starring Anamaria Marinca, Samson Selim, Vladimir Tintor, Mia Mustafi, Dzada Selim, Alina Serban, Sara Klimoska, Ajse Useini and Irena Ristic.

Goran Stolevski is a director who makes fierce, raw, and brave movies and Stolevski’s latest dramatic film, Housekeeping for Beginners, is certainly all of those things. More of a slice-of-life than anything else, the film chronicles a very unconventional family who comes together in times of pain, despair, heartbreak and occasional joy to celebrate and/or experience the complexity of this crazy thing we call life. Although this new picture certainly feels authentic, perhaps it could have been a bit more polished in its presentation of the characters it portrays. Sometimes the film feels very messy which is understandable. So, is life. But, unfortunately, Stolevski’s picture lacks focus in some scenes and only serves up occasional moments of true clarity. The acting, however, is of the highest caliber and saves the picture.

Anamaria Marinca knocks it out of the park as the loving Dita who is the glue that holds the family unit the film presents together. As the film opens, Dita has a close friend, Suada (Alina Serban), who becomes ill and leaves behind two young girls, one younger than the other: Vanesa (Mia Musatafi) and the full-of-energy little tyke, Mia (Dzada Selim). The prominent man who is in the household is named Toni and is played with terrific ferocity by Vladimir Tintor. Toni and Dita are the older members of the household. A young man named with blondish hair named Ali (Samson Selim) becomes Toni’s lover. Dita becomes in charge of the household in more ways than one and is the most earnest person in the movie with her caring nature.

One scene has Toni hitting Ali when he finds a picture of another man on Ali’s phone. But, Vanesa has a similar case on her phone and despite her age, she has the photo of a guy on her cell phone, not Ali. This scene is very forceful and plays ultra realistically. Vanesa is struggling with herself in more ways than one. Though Toni and Dita get married to try to play into he conventions of a traditional family, Vanesa is a ball of fire and has drastic shifts in personality which Dita ultimately must confront as the mother-like figure in the home.

Housekeeping for Beginners is ultimately moving. Scenes hit home and portray the new ways of life that are prevalent in the world today. At the same time, the movie presents raw sex scenes that occasionally feel out of place in the picture but give the film a distinct edge that Stolevski obviously likes to sprinkle into his films. There’s a lot of uneasiness to be found in this movie and that makes the movie one for people more open to non-traditional film-making. Stolevski directed You Won’t Be Alone a couple of years back so we know he’s not a conventional filmmaker. But, some more traditional aspects could have been added to Housekeeping for Beginners. Especially, some sort of resolve at the ending. The movie feels like it ends just as it needs a wrap up that will somehow tie all the elements of the film together. We get a scene with Dita and Vanesa talking but it feels curiously incomplete but, perhaps, Stolevski was going for a “life goes on” sort of ending. It’s still messy, any way you slice it.

The performances make the movie. Marinca’s vulnerability is expertly conveyed on-screen and is commendable as the actress handles some difficult scenes with delicacy and tenderness. Tintor’s role leaps off the screen and the actor’s strengths are perfectly utilized in capturing the essence of this character. It is the younger actresses who surprise with touching turns. Dzada Selim makes her presence known as the wildly energetic little girl and Mia Mustafi is tremendously effective in her challenging role as well. Samson Selim more than holds his own beside them in a less showy, but still powerful, performance.

Housekeeping for Beginners is a unique film. I replayed some scenes a couple of times (the magic of watching movies on streaming) and could truly respect the craft of film-making employed here and the genius of Stolevski who is profound, at times, as a movie-making artist. Would the movie work better if it was a bit more conventional? Probably. But, the unconventional nature of the film is a statement for the unconventional nature that is found in today’s world where all different types of people are forced to live together under one roof. Although the film feels unpolished, so is life itself. Housekeeping for Beginners is still an unforgettable look at people trying to get by with the help and love of those who care for them.

Rating: 7/10

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