Movie of the week: Malina

It’s been a while since I’ve stood up and walked out of a movie, but last night I simply had to.

The New York Museum of Modern Art film society has generally been a can’t-miss-proposition for feeding my art film habits, but last night’s showing of Werner Schroeter‘s Malina was a big disappointment.

I’m a fan of German cinema, but Schroeter, who passed away in 2010, was a new auteur for me and one I looked forward to exploring. Malina, however, was not the best introduction.

The film stars French actress Isabel Huppert. It consists of an interminable number of non sequitur scenes about the nature of madness with Huppert, a writer-academic, smoking cigarettes and behaving irritably at a typewriter and in a bed with one of two men. One of those men, Malina, lurks around the edges and in the hallways of a big Vienna apartment. The other, Ivan, cuddles with her in bed and issues proclamations about hands, fire, and letters. This user review on IMDB says it best:

“Malina is incredibly complex drama on the nature of insanity and to watch it, especially in the beginning, is quite a labour. A woman believes that she is a writer and all her men are fruits of her ill consciousness or personages of her unwritten book or alter egos of her split imagination. And episode after episode her consciousness keeps deteriorating more and more but the end breaks everything once again so all that was happening comes up in absolutely different light and changes its meaning. Malina is an anagram of ‘animal’ and it isn’t accidental but symbolic to the entire surrealistic content of the film. Malina is unique and utterly fabulous movie having many layers of narration and visualization.”

I made it two-thirds of the way, but lack of dinner had me squirming, and when about a dozen other film goers got up and strolled out, I too made my way to the door. This is from me, the guy who can sit through six hours of Satantango.

I can’t call it the worst movie ever, but if I wanted to torment someone, Malina would make the list. I composed a review in my mind during some of the weirder disconnected scenes and marvelled that a medium that gave the world Porky’s 3: Revenge can also give us Schroeter.


Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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