BEATRIX

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by Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner

grade: 8

Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner’s Beatrix is characterised by a very particular narrative development, in which the act of watching, of observing not always in a voyeuristic way, becomes the directors’ primary goal. The camera follows the protagonist during every moment of her day. Meanwhile, what happens before our eyes is simply life. At the Viennale 2021.

Cinema becomes Life

Normal everyday life. What we do when nobody sees us. Moments of loneliness that magically become cinema. With these short and simple terms could be described Beatrix, the debut feature film of young directors Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner, premiered in Austria at the Viennale 2021.

Beatrix is the story of a girl who for a certain period lives alone in a house that is not her own. Beatrix shows us, therefore, how the young student lives, how she looks after the house itself, takes care of herself, rarely receives guests and spends her days. Days in which nothing in particular happens, but which, in the peaceful observation of everyday life, find their ideal fulfilment for the viewer.

The screenplay of Beatrix originates from some considerations on the everyday life of each of us, on how we live when we are sure that no one else sees us. For this reason, therefore, the entire feature film adopts a very particular narrative development, in which the act of watching, of observing not always in a voyeuristic way, becomes the directors’ primary goal. The camera – strictly static – follows the protagonist (played by the excellent Eva Sommer) during every moment of her day. A sharp montage and a few seconds of black mark the passage of time and the change of scene. Meanwhile, what happens before our eyes is simply life. Life depicted in the most natural way possible, with an almost neo-realist approach, which in showing us the protagonist often in her underwear, intent on washing herself or cleaning an extremely dirty oven makes us immediately feel part of that world so well depicted by 4:3 format frames shot in 16mm.

Beatrix doesn’t like people very much. Especially when it comes to relating to men. On the contrary, she seems to be more at ease with women, with whom she becomes a child again dancing to the notes of Stand by Me or shares particularly intimate moments. Yet, despite the feeling between her and her roommate, it almost seems as if the girl is exclusively looking for loneliness. A loneliness that is the absolute protagonist for almost the entire film and that seems to have the upper hand even in the final shot, when the protagonist leaves the scene for good.

Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner, for their part, showed extraordinary directorial maturity, proving to be perfectly capable of capturing every single facet of their protagonist. An often nervous, sometimes grumpy and spiteful, not always perfect and impeccable, but, precisely for this reason, wonderfully genuine protagonist. A magnetic protagonist, who incredibly resembles each one of us. And so, once again, life becomes cinema and cinema becomes life. And to make this happen, one needs first of all a great, great sensitivity.

Original title: Beatrix
Directed by: Milena Czernovsky, Lilith Kraxner
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 95’
Genre: drama
Cast: Eva Sommer, Katharina Farnleitner, Marthe de Crouy-Chanel
Screenplay: Milena Czernovsky, Lilith Kraxner
Cinematography: Antonia de la Luz Kašik
Produced by: sixpackfilm

Info: the page of Beatrix on iMDb; the page of Beatrix on the website of the Viennale; the page of Beatrix on the website of the sixpackfilm