Bitch

Martial unrest has been portrayed in countless films, chronicling couple’s unhappiness from unspoken resentment to full-blown screaming and smashed plates. Marianna Palka is the latest writer-director to take on a distancing husband and wife and she puts her own spin on the the well-told story in Bitch.

“Marianna Palka is the latest writer-director to take on a distancing husband and wife and she puts her own spin on the the well-told story in Bitch.”

Her own spin is a bit of an understatement.

Palka stars as Jill Hart, a deeply unhappy woman, whose cries for help fall on her husband’s deaf ears. Bill (Jason Ritter) doesn’t have time for his wife and children, living at the office, working around the clock and having an affair in his office in between meetings. When he’s home, he’s a stranger in a strangeland, who is forced to lead his family when Jill goes missing after a failed suicide attempt.

Jill going missing doesn’t work for Bill, who assumes the position once occupied by his wife. He has to get the kids ready for school and drive them all before his first meeting. Only thing is, Bill doesn’t know where his children go to school. Exasperated by having to be a parent for the first time, Bill curses his wife’s name for disappearing.

“Palka earns a lot of credit trying to make something weird out of something normal…”

The family soon finds out Jill hasn’t gone too far – brace yourself, this is where it gets strange – but has assumed the existence of a dog. She lives in the basement, barking and scratching at the door, covered in feces, while moving around on all fours.

Palka earns a lot of credit trying to make something weird out of something normal. The majority of her film operates in a world where this crazy circumstance could happen and we watch how the rest of the family adapts to their mother’s new persona. As Bitch progresses, it slides into a much more familiar redemptive tale but then Jill barks from the basement and we remember this movie still has a little – well – bite.

Bitch (2017) Directed by Marianna Palka. Written by Marianna Palka. Starring Marianna Palka and Jason Ritter.

Grade: B-

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