My Darling Supermarket
Hands, busy at work, move across a bench. Out of focus, tools pile up. Wires spill from the floor and freshly painted walls stand for an empty room. A grocery store is born. Tali Yankelevich’s debut feature, My Darling Supermarket, is an abstract documentary set in that most common of spaces. Shot in 2019, there isn’t a mask in sight, and there’s no rigid one-way system around the shop floor. Instead, the São Paulo-based director shows the essence of work in a Brazilian supermercado.
Items scanned at checkouts, shelves endlessly stacked, a large, industrial bakery – these scenes are accompanied by interviews with employees, who describe their lives and what their job means to them. All the while, ubiquitous CCTV cameras survey the store, with CIA-like images of security passing judgment on the customers as they watch for transgressors.
The Brazilian director focuses on the bright colours of the supermarket. Dozens of loo rolls and rice packets are laid out with precision by teenage staff members. Yet, are these colours a comfort or a trap? The big shop is a transient space that can take a limitless time to traverse. People are able to escape from life’s other pressures there, caring only for their ultimate needs of food and water. But if it is also one’s workplace, then what does this solace mean? It is all slightly reminiscent of Godard’s Tout Va Bien – starring Jane Fonda – which showed the struggle of labourers at a sausage factory by presenting opposing tracking shots of the manufacturing plant and the supermarket: two giant warehouses of consumption.
Utilising the grocery store as the sole setting of their feature, Yankelevich and cinematographer Gustavo Almeida make the simple space that has featured in a thousand films but has rarely been commented on into its own world. By turning the camera onto the workers, My Darling Supermarket’s vision is broadened to include every voice.
My Darling Supermarket is released theatrically online on 24th February 2021.
Watch the trailer for My Darling Supermarket here: