Sunday, July 26, 2015

Stand Up Straight, Delfina

Ispravi se, Delfina; drama, Macedonia, 1977; D: Aleksandar Đurčinov, S: Neda Arnerić, Slobodan Dimitrijević, Darko Damevski, Dime Ilijev, Sabina Ajrula

Delfina is a young girl who loves to swim in the Ohrid lake, in Macedonia during Yugoslavia. However, her mother thinks swimming is a waste of time, and disapproves, while her father is a passive alcoholic. Delfina works as a waitress and meets a nice lad, Petko, but goes to study in Skopje. There, she meets sports manager Mladen who becomes her lover, but disappoints when he demands that she makes an abortion in order to focus on her swimming career. Mladen sets up various shows and contracts to exploit more money from her, which in the end causes Delfina to leave him. Finally, her first manager Atanas sets up her highlight: Delfina swims across the La Manche channel, becoming the first person from Yugoslavia to succeed in that.

A loose biopic about Atina Bojadži - nicknamed "Dolphina" due to her swimming abilities and the first Yugoslav person to swim across the English channel - Aleksandar Djurcinov's sports drama is a an interesting and fairly well made film that gives an appropriate homage and bow towards the great achievement of the title heroine, at the same time also showing that her life path was probably maybe even an tougher ordeal than her swimming challenge. A fair share of the storyline seems routine, schematic and standard, with very little surprises, yet the film has that charming 70s flair and aesthetic, pleasant landscapes of the Macedonian Ohrid lake. A few interesting moments show up from time to time and lift the film up from a couple of melodramatic moments (for instance, Delfina asks her manager a thought-provocative question: "Does having more money guarantee more happiness?"; the long, marathon swim through the English channel, upon which she must not touch a ship accompanying her and has to drink soup in a cup while floating in the sea). "Stand Up Straight, Delfina" presents her life in flashbacks during the English channel swim, and thus it subconsciously creates a neat little feeling that Delfina loses her energy and finally stops and wants to give up almost parallel with the ever more increasingly darker flashbacks of her life, as if those memories are catching up and taking an ever increasing toll on her. A fair and good biopic, and a great deal of credit has to be given to the main actress, Neda Arneric, who did a wonderful job in giving her a sense of fragility and humbleness.


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