In her fourth feature Marianna Palka (known for Good Dick) absurdly illustrates how, by just being in relation to her adulterous husband, society will inevitably judge the behaviour of the woman scorned as that of a crazy bitch. Immersing her audience in the world of the canine, this panting pantomime is, disappointingly, more bark than bite.
Clever in concept, the bitch conceit isn’t entirely satisfying especially as Palka relegates herself to a non-speaking role that spends the majority of its screen-time locked away in a basement. Her canine alter-ego is certainly entertaining, but not much more than that.
Parka’s housewife ‘Jill’ is married to hopeless patriarch ‘Bill’ (Palka’s collaborator and off-screen partner, Jason Ritter). Ritter’s resemblance to Jim Carrey is quite distracting; his pathetic dependence on Jill is enough to get a few laughs but the lack of any real judgement of his double standards is a problem with Bitch. Leaving the film, it is hard to shake the feeling that the time spent on his character could have been used more effectively.
It is difficult to categorise Bitch. The maddening effects of the American suburbia on women’s bodies is something that has been successfully portrayed before (Todd Haynes’ 1995 Safe is a far more original take). The joke is as simplistic as it sounds, and although its small amount of adult content makes an attempt at maturity, not much can save the plot from just being about the day mum turned into a dog.
Marianna Palka’s Bitch is an attempt to make a feminist statement that is just as punchy and provocative as its title. However, the central gimmick tires about thirty minutes into the feature leaving its later part less of a biting satire and more of a self-mockery.
CAST: Jason Ritter, Jaime King, Marianna Palka, Brighton Sharbino, Rio Mangini, Kingston Foster
DIRECTOR: Marianna Palka
WRITER: Marianna Palka
SYNOPSIS: A household descends into chaos when Jill, the estranged wife of cheating husband Bill and mother of four, takes on a vicious new canine persona.