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Women Do Cry
Image Courtesy of SXSW

Film

Women Do Cry Strikes at a Hypocritical Patriarchal Society

Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s Women Do Cry exposes the reality for women in modern Bulgaria once they stray from what is expected of them.

SXSW 2022: Women Do Cry Review

Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s last film, Cat in the Wall, built a layer of tension in order to have blunt conversations about class inequality. Women Do Cry’s often abrasive commentary on gender inequality, systemic flaws, and the roles women are expected to play, ends up being a logical evolution of the directing duo’s knack for tension. This time played to an extreme degree at all times, Women Do Cry pointedly critiques modern Bulgarian society while surrounding itself with a strong, endearing family of women.

Subtlety is off the table once Women Do Cry gets to its early dilemma. Sonja (Maria Bakalova) struggles to come to terms with the fact that the man she loved has transmitted HIV to her – a revelation she discovers from the man’s wife who advises she gets tested. Right from the outset, the support systems she should depend upon in this frightening period begin crumbling around her. Doctors refuse to examine her, men refuse to touch her, her motivation to continue with her studies disappears – she begins to realize the society that she was able to comfortably reside within no longer wants her.

Women Do Cry
Image Courtesy of SXSW

Mileva and Kazakova’s screenplay pulls no punches and for many that will be a turn off. Even with Sonja’s family surrounding her and attempting to help her through her situation, Women Do Cry starts finding other avenues to explore as it reveals a family hiding their problems from each other out of fear of the same scrutiny. The roles women have been expected to play in society are acknowledged and explored with each of Sonja’s relatives.

It’s a heartbreaking and infuriating film to watch, but also one that follows the same paths one too many times. Eventually, the frustrated screams of its female characters feel less emotionally compelling as Women Do Cry retreads ground it’s already walked confidently. It’s clear by the end of the film that it wants to paint a picture of what society is like for women when they attempt to walk off the path laid out for them, but the messaging loses its impact through the tedium.

Women Do Cry
Image Courtesy of SXSW

However, the entire cast is tremendous with plenty of moments to let each actor shine. While Bakalova gets the majority of the stand-out moments, she’s surrounded by plenty of other fantastic performances that each wear a different shade of inner torment. Though their scenes are never as flashy as Bakalova’s character, actors like Bilyana Kazakova and Ralitsa Stoyanova each embody strong women forced to confront the reality of the world around them.

Women Do Cry is an extremely effective movie only dulled by its repetitive messaging. The nuance in its perspective and bluntness in its themes is refreshing, mirroring the determination of its characters to preserve through a world seemingly governed by men but can only go so far before it verges on feeling over-the-top. It never quite hits that point, thankfully, but the screenplay’s quiet melodrama eventually feels like it could give way at any moment. Though any missteps are easily pushed aside to spend time with the family at its center: an endearing group of women that are not intimidated by a patriarchal, hypocritical society and provide each other with the support they need.

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Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

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