Housekeeping for Beginners is Lost in Translation

Housekeeping for Beginners Review

With a name like Housekeeping for Beginners, you’d expect the latest Focus Features release to be about housekeepers or more domestic-type endeavors. Instead, the film coming from Macedonia is really more about the formation of a family of sorts from a host of misfits within their society. The title isn’t the only thing that seems to be lost in translation though, the whole plot and storyline may not be one that will translate well to most audiences.

After the death of her partner, Dita takes on the role of mother of her two daughters. Trying to give the youngest a better life than her mother and older sister have, she adopts her through not quite legal measures so she won’t be discriminated against for being of Romani heritage. While the older daughter tries to find her footing in the world after the death of her mother, Dita has to maintain the home she has created for other runaways, raise the girls and keep her job – all under the eyes of an oppressive government.

Housekeeping for Beginners Review

Housekeeping for Beginners’ subject matter is deep and sometimes heavy for viewers. There’s love, loss, abuse, focusing on areas of extreme poverty and what people must do to survive within an oppressive system. It’s dark, hard to watch, and really, goes so quickly from issue to issue that sometimes it’s hard to see the resolution and where the movie is going. It seems like the story is so focused on the dark parts of the character’s lives that it doesn’t have a direction or a resolution that would generally be considered satisfactory. It just, sort of ends.

Maybe it’s the cultural difference between Macedonian media and more stereotypical Western films, but the movie is going to have a hard time with most audiences. From the subject matter and the subtitles included, most audiences wouldn’t make it through much of the story if it had a path you could follow.

Housekeeping for Beginners is in theaters everywhere on Friday, April 19th.

Overall Rating

Two and a half star reviews

About Housekeeping for Beginners

Housekeeping for Beginners Review

From acclaimed filmmaker Goran Stolevski comes a story exploring the universal truths of family, both the ones we’re born into and the ones we find for ourselves. Dita never wanted to be a mother, but circumstances force her to raise her girlfriend’s two daughters, tiny troublemaker Mia and rebellious teen Vanesa. A battle of wills ensues as the three continue to butt heads and become an unlikely family that must fight to stay together.

Starring Anamaria Marinca, Alina Serban, Samson Selim, Vladimir Tintor, Mia Mustafa, Dzada Selim, Sara Klimoska, Rozafë Çelaj, and Ajse Useini
Directed by Goran Stolevski
(Focus Features)


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