Do you ever wish you could fit in somewhere other than where you are now? Sophie Linnenbaum‘s inventive feature debut, The Ordinaries, is a delightful satirical look at society.
What type of character are you? Are you the main character or a supporting character? Do you have a role, or do you even want one?” These questions suggest the presence of characters in the film. Sophie Linnenbaum‘s movie takes us on a journey into the meta universe, a world where everyone has a role. It is a wildly immersive film that keeps you transfixed from start to finish.
The Ordinaries is a tale that could easily have come from the pages of a Kafka novel or a script by Charlie Kaufman, giving you an idea of the rabbit hole we’ve stepped into.
What if the world you live in is ruled by the laws of film? In Paula Feinmann’s (Fine Sindel) world, they do. It’s a dystopian world that’s ruled by a three-class system. At the top of the food chain is the main characters, followed by the supporting characters (which Paula is). At the bottom are the Outtakes.
Paula lives at home with her mother Elisa (played by Jule Bowe). She’s working hard to become a main character like her absent father. During a visit to the archives with her friend Hannah (played by Sira-Anna Faal), Paula decides to research her father’s old work. She finds nothing and confronts her mother about her father and whether he was truly a main character. Her mother smiles at her daughter and says, “He was a very important main character, but he was killed in a past uprising.”
This frustrates Paula and pushes her to find the answers for herself. Of course, her mother is only a minor character, and the lines she gets are minimal and repetitive. Paula’s new path for the truth would start to affect her studies and chances to step up the social ladder. Thanks to her friend Hannah’s miscast “maid” Hilde (played by Henning Peker), who helps her get on the right track, Paula begins to explore the Outtakes. However, that path takes her where no supporting or lead actor should go. What does that mean for her future?
The basic idea for The Ordinaries comes from Linnebaum’s 2016 short film, Out of Fra]me. She made this film while at university, which made her think about what it would be like to live outside the frame and find connection with characters who are considered “film defects”. These defects have stuck with the director ever since, and now they have a home in her feature debut.
There are times when we watch films on the big or small screen and become immersed in what we are watching, transporting us into the world and making us feel like a part of that universe. It wants to make you think it’s a perfect world, but is it really? Beyond the quirky, feel-good tone of The Ordinaries, there is a political, darker edge. Linnenbaum reflects the societal issues many people face worldwide, such as a class system that many use to divide us. At the top are the main actors, the elite who believe they are flawless. The supporting characters are the working class with limited voice, who just do their best with what they have. The outcasts, the forgotten in society, have no voice, which leaves you asking, “Is there really anyone perfect and flawless?” Have you ever felt like a “supporting character” in your own life?
It’s not all doom and gloom in The Ordinaries. While Paula may be having an identity crisis, the cinematic universe she lives in offers hope, or are they simply distractions? It’s colorful and vibrant, not just in what they wear or the interiors, but also in the form of song and dance, as seen in Hannah and her family. Every time Paula meets them, they burst into something reminiscent of the musicals of Hollywood’s golden age. However, even the fashion style is related to the 1950s and 1960s, and discrimination was lurking behind the scenes.
The Ordinaries isn’t a perfect film; it has its flaws. It doesn’t offer any answers to the problems it highlights, as society is still broken and divided by our differences, forgetting how lonely the world can be. However, if you enjoy films such as Brazil, The Truman Show, or Sorry To Bother You, you will enjoy The Ordinaries. It is highly inventive and an impressive fun film that reminds us that we all have an equal part to play in this world.
Fantasy, Comedy | Germany, 2022 | 15 | Glasgow Film Festival | The Match Factory | Dir. Sophie Linnenbaum | Fine Sendel, Jule Böwe, Henning Peker, Denise M’Baye, Pasquale Aleardi, Noah Tinwa
The original review was posted at The Peoples Movies on 5th March 2023 | Original link