Sundance London: Bitch (2017)

Marianna Palka appears in Bitch by Marianna Palka, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. © 2016 Sundance Institute | photo by Armando Salas.

Bitch is a satirical feminist parable about domestic nightmare directed by Marianna Palka, in which she plays the central character.

It's a Dog's Life

by Alexa Dalby


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Director Marianna Palka also plays the unnamed central character in her film Bitch. A mother with four children with a spread of ages and an unfaithful husband (Jason Ritter), we see her first trying to hang herself with a dog lead from the light fitting in the dining room of her home. She knows she’s cracking up and she tells her uncaring husband she’s afraid of what she might do.

What she does do is have a psychological breakdown. The appropriately discordant musical score by Morgan Z. Whirledge will set your teeth on edge. She settles in the basement of their house and behaves like an uncontrollable, violent dog (bitch), barking (literally), biting and rolling in faeces. Her useless husband is forced to take on all the jobs she previously shouldered. He proves to be incapable of simple chores such as providing the children with food at home, their packed lunches, clean clothes or doing the school run – he doesn’t even know what schools they go to. He has to learn.

Bitch has a great, attention-grabbing premise but as a satirical feminist parable it ends up too extreme for its own good. For it to take off successfully into its fantasy world, it needed to have been rooted in something believable but the set-up of the characters and their reactions to the situation are odd.

Bitch is showing at the Sundance London film festival in June 2017.

Photos courtesy of Sundance Institute.

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