The portrait of a teenage mentally handicapped girl in the first throes of sex, Stina Werenfels’ Dora Or The Sexual Neuroses Of Our Parents comes unhinged.
Independence Dayby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Based on the popular Swiss play by Boris Treyer, Stina Werenfels’ Dora Or The Sexual Neuroses Of Our Parents transports to the German capital the story of a mentally handicapped 18-year-old girl discovering sex. Victoria Schulz is flawless as Dora, and yet it’s an awkward and courageous role for any actress – walking the fine moral line between respectful mimicry and poignant exaggeration. And while Dora Oder Die Sexuellen Neurosen Unserer Eltern starts out as a slightly saccharine portrait of loving parents slowly ceding independence to their needy daughter, Werenfels’ film takes on a nastier edge with the appearance of Peter (Lars Eidinger, who also appears in Sworn Virgin), who takes advantage of Dora for sex, promises to marry her in Las Vegas before jilting her at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. It’s here however that the story begins to fall apart, as patient mother Kristin (Jenny Schily) keen but now unable to have a second child, becomes jealous of Dora’s repeated unwanted pregnancies. In the family that Werenfels creates, it’s inconceivable that her mother would send her to a home (or that her husband would allow it), that Dora would bear a grudge against her mother for so long, or that her mother should just drift away into drug-fuelled burlesque sex. But Werenfels’ script just skips over any problems in the story, leaving much of the actual drama unspoken. And while there’s a tragedy to Dora’s disappointed optimism, the second half falls apart at the seams, leaving the question that haunts much of the film unanswered, who is going to look after Dora’s daughter? A vibrant collection of fine performances and sensuous images, Dora Or The Sexual Neuroses Of Our Parents isn’t short on hysteria, but leaves much of its issues undiagnosed.
Dora Or The Sexual Neuroses Of Our Parents is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival