Filmmakers in attendance.
Marriage is already complicated. Mix in the birth of your first child and suddenly the small moments are completely magnified beyond control. For Aniket and Leah, the specifics of what is ‘normal’ has changed. Director Mragendra Singh’s effortlessly strong feature film debut, explores this evolving notion of returning to the status quo.
In the months after their daughter’s birth, Aniket and Leah struggle to have an intimate connection. Aniket blames it on his work, but there’s more to it than that. During a candid conversation with his coworker, he says after watching his wife give birth, he is just unable to have sex with her. Meanwhile, Leah would like to return to work, but Aniket wishes her to stay home. A growing inability to really communicate with each other further creates a widening gap in their quest for the ‘normal.’
Singh’s subtle filmmaking approach, with the camera as a mere observer, allows the actors to create the tension of each scene. As the central couple, actors Aseem Tiwari and Suzanna Akins beautifully work within the subtext of the dialogue, where the pauses speak volumes about the status of their relationship to each other and with themselves. A recurring scene in the film finds both leads brushing their teeth together in front of the bathroom mirror. This is one of the very few moments they have together each day, and Tiwari and Akins show so much about their characters between brush strokes. Singh, who also wrote the script, masterfully draws the most out of these performances and creates a completely relatable world for these characters to inhabit. It would be easy to pass off Aniket and Leah as selfish and undeserving of our sympathy, but Singh manages to show their flaws in a way that makes the audience empathize rather than pass judgment.
It turns out that what’s normal, is a matter of circumstance. A baby certainly changes the circumstances of, well, everything, and NORMAL. is an incredibly thoughtful and honest exploration of growth in marriage. Because, what often ends up happening, is a stubborn denial of the facts. We lash out in unexpected and harmful ways instead of just accepting the situation. NORMAL. might make you uncomfortable at times, but this is precisely the point. Just as Aniket and Leah need to better openly confront their problems, so do each of us. —Jeremy Gaudette
Director, Writer: Mragendra Singh
Producer: Jesica A. Andres, Caitlin Kelly, Shardul Sharma, Mainak Dhar
Director of Photography: L.T. Chang
Cast: Aseem Tiwari, Suzanna Akins, Mav Viola, Cynthia Strahan
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