Nina, Please (2010)
This 15-minute Croatian film, also featured at the Libertas Film Festival and available streaming on Mubi, is directed by Barbara Vekaric. The film tells the story of a power struggle between a husband and wife – the husband wanting love and affection from his partner in the form of sex, and his wife having zero interest in intimacy. While this film reminds me of the American feature film that came out last year, Blue Valentine (2010), it includes none of the romantic backstory that made that film so bittersweet. Neven seems focused singularly on sex like it is the solution to fix his marriage. Nina is grateful for Neven’s financial support but seems to feel only little affection for him as a provider and roommate. She is no longer attracted to him. After Nina’s brother and his girlfriend come to visit and she compares her unhappy relationship to their happy one, she decides giving in to Neven will help fix their marriage. The sex scene at the end, with Nina’s initial protests and rejections giving way to a blase acceptance as the camera holds on her face, is incredibly uncomfortable for the audience. Not only is it technically rape, but the cinematography holds us close to Nina’s unhappiness on the actress’s face. This film has a bleak perspective on marriage, and includes none of the closure that Blue Valentine does. Not one of my favorite shorts.