Unclenching the Fists (Razzhimaya Kulaki)
Kira Kovalenko brings to the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival Unclenching the Fists. It tells the story of Ada, a woman in her 20s whom the audiences meet with her jacket zipped up to her nose, only showing her secretive but alluring eyes, apparently frightened and excited at the same time. Ada is painfully shy but that doesn’t stop young men from probing her repeatedly until she offers a reaction. She works in the local shop and lives with her brother and father in a North Ossetia town, previously known for mining but now vast and derelict. She is not allowed to wear perfume nor grow her hair long, as her father wants her to stay his forever and evade the attention of any men who might take her away.
It is so difficult to know what the protagonist is thinking and she doesn’t say much. There are moments when she is being so irritated and bullied by the men in her life, the audience are biting their fists with anger. Her close-aged brother creeps into her bed at night and refuses to leave, and Ada doesn’t seem able to muster the confidence to shout in his face, “Leave me alone!”. There are so many similar instances where the audience will her to stand her ground, but she is unable to.
Kovalenko brings a slow but raw story in a setting that is never seen in mainstream cinema. Unclenching the Fists, as its title suggests, is a film about standing up for one’s self and the conflict and pain of loving someone as much as hating them. The direction is interesting, following the characters as they walk furiously, shaking with every bump and trip, creating an on-the-ground documentary style.
It’s an uncomfortable and at times infuriating watch, as a mute Ada is thrown doll-like from man to man without any concern for how she feels. But ultimately it’s the heartbreaking story of how desperate people become for freedom and the fear of leaving the only place and the only people they know.
Unclenching the Fists (Razzhimaya Kulaki) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from Unclenching the Fists (Razzhimaya Kulaki) here: