Mallory (2015) Review

Mallory is a thoroughly shot and a moving portrait of a heroin addict Mallory Neradova trying to get her life straight. When she finds out she’s expecting the child whose father is her fellow heroin addict, she lands rock bottom out on the streets of Prague in the middle of the night. At the moment when things couldn’t get any worse for Mallory, a perfect stranger lends her a helping hand. It turns out that the man in question is not a stranger in any sense – he’s Czech’s greatest actor Jiri Bartoska whom she simply adores. Bartoska gives her all the cash he has on him and from that moment on he becomes Mallory’s guardian angel. In that moment she gives a promise to herself she’ll stop taking heroin. Of course, she cannot stop while she’s pregnant so after nine months she gives birth to an addict son. He spends his first days outside of the womb alone as Mallory performs her detox program. She manages to stay sober even though she faces homelessness, unemployment, violence in relationships she’s in and separation from the beloved son. He’s taken away from her and put in the mental hospital as he experiences some learning and behavioral challenges due to his/her addiction. Surprisingly enough Mallory manages to stay off drugs through all these trying times and in the end even graduating from college and works as a therapist.

Helena Trestikova’s latest documentary feature spans over 13 years, which is one of her most compact stories (Trestikova is still working on her Private Universe which now marks 37 years of shooting). Peter Debruge from Variety calls Mallory the time-lapse doc as Trestikova persistently goes back to shoot Mallory at equal intervals. Despite the magical figure Bartoska, Trestikova managed to present a precise portrait of Mallory without even a sign of pathos. It can’t get any more real than this. Even though Helena Trestikova sometimes misses some of the most dramatic events in Mallory’s life, she manages to connect the dots flawlessly. Overall Mallory is a very inspiring story and a proof that Trestikova is not afraid to take risks. There is a recurring bridge metaphor which adds the rhythm to the film. Trestikova discovers that walking on the bridge can either signify the triumph or decision to commit suicide… Mallory turns out to be a wonderfully real human being and a strong woman. Without even trying  Mallory is growing into a heroine of the screen.

During the Q & A Trestikova told a beautiful story about what happened during the 50th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July 2015 when Mallory got the award in a documentary category. Bartoska, who was a member of the jury, presented Mallory with the biggest bouquet of roses there is when the movie won. Only a real life could have written reunion scene that well.

This article appeared on Marinate your Head last year during CPH: DOX held annually in Copenhagen, Denmark. Back then I talked to Trestikova about the movie; she seemed a little unsure whether the movie is going to be received well. A year has passed, Mallory is being screened all over the world and going strong!

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© 2018 Anna Jozwiak. All rights reserved.

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