VIFF 2014: Sitting on the Edge of Marlene

Dec 19 2017, 12:19 pm

A very dark movie. Many scenes are hard to watch, but they are also impossible to look away from. There is such a tragic reality to Suzanne Clément’s performance of Marlene that the character remains intensely compelling despite her few redeeming qualities. In Paloma Kwiatkowski’s Sammie we have a figure to hope for, and that hope endures past the point where a ‘happy’ ending feels possible.

Death and suicide are major themes in the film and are referenced constantly, but the true stakes are always about Sammie’s soul rather than her physical wellbeing. The question is always whether she can rise above the life she’s been trapped in by her mother, but the idea of Sammie escaping Marlene is never presented as a complete positive either. There is extreme personal cost no matter what she does.

Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is a movie that rattles you and never lets you feel completely comfortable, which is exactly the appeal of it.