Dir.: Marianna Palka; Cast: Marianna Palka, Jason Ritter, Jaime King, USA 2017, 93 min.
Writer/director/star Marianna Palka (Good Dick) offers up an anarchic feminist portrait of a woman, pushed aside by her husband once too often: she turns into a vicious dog, making life hell for husband and four children, whom she had served obediently for so long.
Jill (Palka) runs children and household for her husband Bill (Ritter), who works in the city for a corporation. Hardly ever home – he spends most of his time in the office, exploiting a dependent co-worker sexually, into the bargain. When she gets sacked (together with the whole second floor), Bill puts in a good word in her, but is rebuffed by the boss and vents his frustration at his wife, calling her a bitch. Something snaps in Jill, and she starts living in the cellar of the family home, growling and behaving like a violent dog. The family is taking aback, and when Jill’s sister Beth (King) arrives, she wants to put Jill into a psychiatric home. But Bill is against the idea – what would the neighbours think. But his absence from work costs him his job, and when his lover arrives, inquiring caringly about his wellbeing, Jill ‘smells’ her presence and goes berserk.
Scriptwise the THE BITCH feels like an extended short – but the sheer pace and untamed aggression makes it gripping and watchable. Palka, born in Scotland, is wonderfully convincing as the beastly animal, and really frightens her husband into changing into a human being. DoP Armando Salas helps with a handheld camera, capturing the human dog during long runs through the neighbourhood. The jazz score by Morgan Z. Whirledge is just right for this explosive tale which should send alarm bells to all males of the human race.
SUNDANCE LONDON | 1-4 JUNE 2017