Is "The Martyrdom of Shushanik" a family drama? Probably not, but Manana's life really looked like a family drama in the movie "My Happy Family" (2017, directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß), which is an example of broken love. It follows the stages that couples who do not live alone have to go through. When a third person interferes in the relationship between husband and wife, everything gets mixed up and looks like chaos, and there is no way out of chaos, and thus the love that once connected them is broken.
"My “Happy” Family," this type of title might have adorned the billboards better because there is no happiness anywhere, in the voices of any of the characters, or in their relationship. It seems to have disappeared somewhere. The irony seems to be in the title of the film. The expectation is that the story is about a beautiful, well-established family, but in the very first shot, it begins to crack and smash. The main character, Manana, searches the flat without any apparent reason or who she is doing it for. She starts looking for a new life. Little by little, different characters appear in the story, and the answer to the question of where and why Manana goes, who cannot breathe, is not tempted to make independent decisions, is not taken into account, is not listened to.
Manana can't even decide what to eat in the morning. Mother actively interferes in her personal life. Like it or not, it becomes the beginning of everything. In addition to her mother, Lamara, other family members live in the house, although they are secondary characters. It is the mother who is the main driving force and almost the whole family rests on her. She shouts about everything, interferes everywhere that is not her business and makes the final decisions, often for others.
The movie seems to start without an introduction. The appearance of a woman troubled by everyday vanity raises questions: Who is she? Why is she looking for a flat? Is she alone? When the person helping her find a flat asks her about her family, Manana falls silent. She is alone not because she has no family, she is alone because of herself. She does not know where her place is, she is not happy. Probably, no one loves her either. Manana lost herself, and in order to search for it, she decided to move alone to a new flat. Now is the time to listen to her wishes and find happiness. Afterwards she might become part of a happy family. By themselves, the other characters in the film are interesting ones without whom the plot would have been boring. Soso, Manana's husband, is on the other side of a broken relationship. At a glance, he is a dignified man who does not drink, does not beat his wife, is not a thief and drug addict (as Lamara says) but there are many mistakes hidden in him. It turns out that he is perfidious. Then where is the love and why is Manana the first culprit in the destruction of the family? Soso has already destroyed everything, and it turns out that Manna was picking up the debris. When the woman learned about her husband's betrayal, she became silent. Everyone expected that she would shout, demand an answer from Soso, ask the reasons, rush to her husband's lover's house and fight, but she kept silent and with this silence stood on the highest level. From the beginning, the hesitant and condescending woman has now grown up and neither her relatives nor her son's broken family could bring her back home.
Where is the happy family that the audience is looking for throughout the film? almost nowhere. Perhaps Kitsi and Lasha’s family will be happy. Lasha is a boy who used to be in the shadow. He kept watching Soso and Manana's relationship, seeing how Lamara interfered in their lives. It is interesting, how he will treat his wife, will he learn from his father's mistakes or will he repeat the same?
Everyone suffers from their own loneliness in the film. Lamara is also alone, and her husband is always silent. They don't even talk to him, he shouts to be heard, he tries not to be oppressed. No one starts talking about Lamara's past. Wasn't that exactly how she was treated in her youth, and she simply doesn't know how to behave differently. Maybe she herself has never been happy and she doesn't want anyone else to be happy either. Otari is also alone. He wants to die and often says it out loud. He is tired, he prefers to leave this country and rest. Lasha tries to escape from his family by playing computer games. Otherwise, he might even go crazy smash everything. Or what's the point of his speaking up, Lamara isn't listening to anyone anyway. Nino, despite having a husband, is still not happy. She is also alone, she is locked in a small flat and separating does not even occur to her. Her husband is unfaithful just like her father and it has become a tradition.
But where is the solution and what is the way to a happy family? What would happen if Manana and Soso lived alone? Both of them had to work and after returning would miss each other more. Perhaps they are just tired. Soso found peace with another woman, while Manana found peace at school. And until now, if he threatened to leave the house, she had to leave. It was a push for a new life. At the beginning of the film, she even started looking for a flat, but this did not mean that she would really change her place of residence.
The movie leaves several unanswered questions: how did each character live and do they know where and why they made mistakes? Do they admit these mistakes? Did they ever love each other and were they ever happy? In general, if they know what happiness is? They realize how lonely they are.
Merab Ninidze, who played Soso’s role, seemed that the plot of the film was not enough to get familiar with the role. He looks at everything from the third eye, he could not free himself from the frames that are suffocating him. Otari also looks like a non-functional character, and nothing would be missing from the plot without him.
Anyway, the audience sees the story told in the film every day - families are falling apart all around, parents always interfere in their children's lives, brothers don't listen to their sisters, they always think they are making the right choice, and if a woman is dominant in an aging couple, the man is always "oppressed", etc. It can be said that Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß’s film is a retelling of everyday family problems. There is nothing new or attractive about it. Not all families are happy and everyone knows that very well. Almost everyone is lonely anyway. And in general, what is happiness? A non-existent semiotic word that, without sensations and instincts, has no meaning. Then why did they make a film on a current and repeated topic? Perhaps because one part of the audience will find a way out of the chaos, while the other part will be reminded of what is happening around them.