Bitch is a dark comedy from the mind of Scottish writer/director/actor Marianna Palka, and it had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016. Although Palka is known for her role as “Vicky the Viking” from the Netflix series GLOW, Bitch is the fourth feature that she has directed, the first of which, Good Dick, was at Sundance in 2008.
The earlier scenes in the movie are edgy and experimental, with an opening scene that bites. Depressed and exhausted housewife Jill Hart (Palka) unsuccessfully tries to hang herself with her husband’s belt. She catches a dog intensely staring at her through a window. After her philandering husband Bill (Jason Ritter) and their four ungrateful children neglect to notice that she seriously needs help, she begins acting like a dog but not the cute housebroken kind. Jill really digs deep into her inner beast as she’s covered in faeces and claws around naked in the basement.
Some of the frenetic close-up shots of Jill in her most vicious state are powerful the first time but after they are repeated feel a bit stale. The sound editing, particularly a kitchen scene with Jill and her kids, effectively portrays her fractured state of mind. The provocative and chaotic original score by Morgan Z Whirledge mixes barking with other menacing sounds. Whirledge’s tracks are multilayered and intense, highlighting the crazy nature of Jill’s life on all fours.
It’s a shame that the latter half of the film loses the edginess found in the first half. The opening scenes show immense potential, promising a unique experience. It slowly settles into a mundane and schmaltzy story focusing on Bill as he learns to really take care of his family. The frenzied nature of Bill handling “housewife duties” is both funny and pathetic, especially when he falls flat on the ground from pure exhaustion. Watching Ritter play a bad guy is a pleasant change from his usual gentle and funny guy routine. Jill’s sister Beth (Jaime King) and their parents have too little to work with in the story; one must assume that more of their scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
Having already shown two of her four feature films at Sundance, Marianna Palka is a force to be reckoned with. Her fifth movie Egg – a dark comedy about parenthood – is set for a 2018 release.
Bitch is released in selected cinemas on the 13th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for Bitch here: