Veronica is on the phone to her mother, complaining in Russian that the vast windows of her new apartment make her feel exposed, when her water breaks. “Mum, I’ll call you back, ok?” Next thing we know, she’s pushing her baby through frozen parks and decorating her perfect New York life’s Christmas tree, while the opening credits of Estelle Artus’ According to her roll along a gently menacing classical piano, giving us the odd sensation that things will not remain this idyllic for long.
Being in upper class New York, our characters are destined for success. Our heroine is expected to be a mother while maintaining a brilliant musical career and her slim figure. Motherhood can and should be greatly assisted by nannies and boarding schools, while the physical and financial expectations are impossible to avoid. And the more we get to know our characters, the more we come to realize that Veronica’s potential deliberate failing in satisfying such social expectations could well bring on an overload of envy and scorn from all those who race to compete, thrive and be socially accepted.
Read at Unsung Films: Malady.
Veronica has instead chosen to dedicate herself to motherhood, having completely abandoned her music career and continuously disregarding her looks. She cleans the house and looks after her newborn son in a nighty; she complains about the little things and gradually loses her husband respect and attention as well as her piano playing ability. Whenever she dresses up and goes into the great effort of momentarily detaching herself from her child, falling for the socializing pressures that her husband continuously loads on her, she quickly regrets it.
The idea that any woman can raise a child, whereas not every woman can enjoy a brilliant musical career is pushed and shoved upon Veronica to no avail. Friends, fellow mothers and musicians, family – everyone seems to fight her every choice and decision. People tend to become overly judgmental when complexes, guilt and regret regarding their own lives enter the picture. Personal needs, desires and choice of lifestyle push everyone to insist on a different piece of advice, force it upon our protagonist, envy her and reject her when she quietly disregards is and decides not to follow it.
As According to her progresses, the tyranny that Veronica endures hits a frustrating high which her viewers only tolerate in the hope that she will soon fight back. When the demeaning remarks, the jealousy, injustice and discrimination overflow, we sit patiently waiting for her revenge. She has been so wronged for so long, that we’re only watching to see her finally theatrically detaching herself from this false, elitist and cruel environment. But she’s in shock and disbelief. It’s not weakness that is keeping her silent – it’s sheer inability to react; inability to accept the madness; inability to answer back to her husband’s nightmarish verbal attacks; inability to understand why her harmless personal choices have led to such hatred.
Watch the trailer for According to her here: