Werner Schroeter's Malina begins with a horrific dream sequence in which our main protagonist envisions herself as a little girl being thrown to her death off the top of a building by her own father. While the scene certainly grabs the viewer's attention, it is only the beginning of a film which sets out to challenge the viewer in every way possible. The basic plot of the story revolves around this unnamed protagonist, a chain-smoking writer, whose increasing insanity stems from choosing between her uninspiring, bland husband and her indifferent lover she recently met. Werner Schroeter's Malina is one of the most complex and difficult films I have witnessed in quite a while. It's a film that slowly and emphatically captures madness, specifically schizophrenia, in a way which I don't think i've seen before. The comparisons to Zulawski's films are certainly apt but Malina is much more reserved from a directorial standpoint, using beautiful static compositions which complement the frantic energy of the film. With Maline, Schroeter assaults the viewer intellectually, touching on themes dealing with individuality, feminism and beauty vs. intellect, among others. I would be lying if I said I grasped everything the filmmaker was trying to say but what he has created is a visual work of art. Schroeter uses an abundance of mirror imagery to express how Malina's individuality is being affected by these two men, capturing how they want to control or takeover her identity. Besides how these two men interact with her, Malina consists of quite a few surreal sequences revolving around her father which seem to suggest that much of her discourse began there. The fact that all these characters are male certainly isn't by coincidence, though it may be a little too presumptuous to say the filmmakers were commenting on how feminism is caged off and sheltered in a male-dominant world. Isabelle Huppert, who seems to be in every damn film these days, gives arguable the best performance in her entire career , capturing both the extreme fragility and angst this character has. If I had a major complaint about Malina it would simply be the films running time, as it could have been a half hour shorter and had the same effect. Werner Schroeter's Malina is the type of film many would deem as "unrewarding', it's challenging and intentionally confusing but undeniably fascinating.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.