THE REVIEW OF THE FILM "CALL ME MARIANNA"
The story of Marianna Klapczyńska, a transsexual person, who decided to abandon the male identity, is told in the film by Karolina Bielawska in two parallel ways. Observational shots showing the protagonist's life are intertwined with the documentation of a theatre rehearsal, that is, reading the text of the screenplay.
The film begins with simple exposition: the scene, a table, two chairs, the background is shaded, the camera placed on the tripod. Two well-known and esteemed Polish actors sit opposite each other: Mariusz Bonaszewski and Jowita Budnik. A wheelchair with an elegantly dressed forty-something woman approaches the table. She takes up the place in the central part of the frame, her face is turned to the camera. In the dialogue read by the protagonists, we recognise marriage drama, bringing to mind some plays by Bergman. The voice of the central character, the play's director, is interrupted, in the facial features we can notices unnatural grimace. It is only the characteristic, prolonged close-up that allows to finally recognise in her the eponymous character of the film. "Call Me Marianna" is a story which relies on extremely simple artistic means, a tale about a person marked by fate.
In subsequent shots, we see Marianna - healthy, active, eagerly talking about herself. It is only at the end when we learn about the tragedy which happened to her. For the time being, we watch how she tries to build her life anew. This is because the protagonist underwent the sex reassignment surgery, in the film, we see archival photos, on which she is still a man. For her entire life, she abhorred her body, but nevertheless she followed the path set by the society: she started a family, had children, even her job is typically "masculine": she works in the Warsaw metro as engine driver. Colleagues from work helped Marianna, testifying in her favour during the trial. The procedure is as follows: in order to undergo the sex reassignment surgery, one has to sue one's parents. This controversial law also complicated Marianna's life. We witness the failed attempts at coming to agreement with the protagonist's mother, who does not agree with her decision and consequently addresses her as her son. This is hardly surprising, anyway: she brought up a man, and loved him as a son. For her, it is hard to come to terms with such a fundamental change, in addition, taking place so late.
Marianna dared to undergo the operation at the time in her life when, objectively looking, she achieved everything. A house, permanent employment, adult children, 25 years of marriage. Apparently, it is often the case that when a transsexual person decides to act, he or she is often a veteran of the vicissitudes of life, experienced in "somebody else's" skin.
The family finally accepts Marianna's choice, also because of the tragedy which clips the protagonist's wings at the very beginning of her new life. However, she does not give up, supported by an understanding partner and a friend, also transsexual. Marianna's determination silences all these who would like to consider her problem a whim. The film presents the issue in a comprehensive manner. One of the best scenes is Marianna's conversation with the ex-wife. Katarzyna Klapczyńska does not reproach Marianna, but does not hide her unhappiness. The broad range of aspects in the film by Karolina Bielawska, the lack of any kind of omissions concerning supporting characters, the decision to replace "talking heads" and depict a part of the history in the frames of a theatre rehearsal and formal consistency all contribute to the fact that Bielawska’s work is characterised by first-class realism.