In her newest film God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya, Macedonian filmmaker Teona Strugar Mitevska sets lofty topic goals on which to comment. As the title hints at, the film explores the relationship between religious orthodoxy and women, but Mitevska also comments on the ever-decreasing job market and how it exacerbates the generational gap.
Zorica Nusheva plays Petrunya, an unemployed woman in her mid-thirties who finds her college degree in History to be more of a hindrance than a boon when job seeking. After a humiliating job interview set up by her aunt goes nowhere, she walks home past an ongoing religious ceremony where a priest throws a cross into a river and men jump of a bridge in competition to retrieve it. Despondent from another failure, Petrunya becomes impulsive and jumps into the water with the men and comes away with the cross and the scorn/ legal ire of the crowd.
For a film that attempted to touch on as many topics as God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya did, it ran out of things to say shockingly quick. The second half of the film takes place in a police station where Petrunya is being held despite not being under arrest. The purpose of the set is for the police to act as a narrative catalyst between Petrunya and the people who think she wronged them as well as the people who let her down. While reasonable in theory, the film becomes repetitive to the point of monotony as the same scene happens over and over again with a different secondary character and slightly different topic being the only variation. While the argument may be that each topic Petrunya is addressing stems from the same hole, that does not justify the staleness in direction. The argument can be made in a more engaging manner. Instead, the film just felt lazy.
God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya is a film that wanted to say a lot, but in attempting to it ended up saying little. Parallelisms can be drawn in cinema through a multitude of editing and plotting techniques, but the film utilizes an extremely flat repetition which stops the film in its tracks at the halfway mark and ceases to produce anything of interest. The film’s goals weren’t flawed, but its execution was.