Originally released in 2017, Shashinka, directed by Kristina Wagenbauer (first feature length film), is a film we can add to the mother/daughter film pile. The story unfolds over the course of one day and the “truth” emerges little by little. While the mother/daughter story is an intriguing one the subplots seem a little wasteful. Just filling up time. Time that should have been spent on the main story.
Sasha’s (Carla Turcotte – from television’s Unite 9) live turns upside down when her mother Elena (Natalia Dontcheva – from television’s Doc Martin) arrives back into her life unexpectedly. To say the relationship between mother and daughter is strained is an understatement to say the least. Elena, who was born in Russia and came to Montreal thinking she would become a successful singer, seems to have no money and has been locked out of her apartment by the latest man in her life. She is looking to stay with her daughter until she gets her key back.
This disturbance happens at a time which Sasha, who is an aspiring singer, is preparing for a big concert. She sees it as something that could launch her career. The next 24 hours (seems longer than that) will be turbulent and not what she needs at the time. As time goes the real reason her mother has shown up on her doorstep becomes more and more apparent.
So the moments between Sasha and Elena are a worthy watch. Exact opposite that the smaller stories like Sasha’s music career and bulemia/eating disorder bring to the table. Not enough time is spent on the other and as such they end up feeling incomplete or window dressing. Which is one thing when it comes to a music career, but the complete opposite in regards to bulemia. This is a serious issue and it is just dealt with at arm’s length. A disservice.
Then there is the ending. I have never been a person who needs things completely fleshed out or explained to me. That annoys me just as much. But this is a situation in which the director seems to be trying to be a little too clever. It ends suddenly and we are just left dangling. No resolution of any type. Almost like they ran out of time. Or the budget to do one. Despite this Wagenbauer is a director which I will keep my eyes on as there is potential.
Being onscreen for most every scene, much of the weight falls upon the shoulders of the two lead actresses. Both Turcotte and Dontcheva acquit themselves well. Special notice has to be given to Dontcheva. A great job of handling a character which could have been totally one dimensional. Her Elena is not just crazy and eccentric, there is more there just under the surface.