Adele Tulli’s Normal, quite simply, traces life’s rites of passage underscoring that, along the way, there are distinct differences between the male and female experience. In a series of vignettes, Tulli examines life from the womb yelling clear that as soon as people are no longer an extension of their mother they are gendered through social custom. In slightly over an hour, the film accentuates the heteronormative and gendered imperatives in life: men must strive to dominate as an alpha male and women should learn to submit as an aesthetic object and wife for their husband’s consumption. Normal is truthful but not particularly thought-provoking, as though it has come a couple years late.
What does make the documentary unique is its facelessness. Each frame is crowded with bodies in pulsating crowds but it is hard to tease one person from the next. Clarissa Cappellani and Francesca Zonars’s cinematography is impressive and develops visual ties that carry the piece from one age bracket to the next. Too, Normal elegantly underscores the human similarity through the anonymity of its subjects.
It is a short film that doesn’t drag through the stages of gendered existence. Nonetheless, the documentary fails to change in tone and its onenote-ness lays the groundwork for a new message that, in the end, never arises. The director underlines her point early and then repeats it again and again aided by the confrontational composition of her subjects. It is most obvious in the final moment with the camera set in the empty stalls of an auditorium watching her subjects on a stage. Here, Tulli allows her audience to bear witness to the new normal – the civil union of two men. It feels a like the provoking end but to a different film, answering a question that Normal didn’t quite ask.
Normal does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.