“My Love Affair With Marriage”: twenty-five years in the life of a woman


In his first feature film, Rocks in My Pockets (never released in France), Signe Baumane, Latvian screenwriter and director based in New York, had already chosen to give us part of her heritage. The one left by the women of his family who, over a hundred years, had been victims of depression, sometimes even committing suicide. His second feature, My Love Affair with Marriage, is still inspired by its own history. This time it concerns the two marriages to which she consented and which she says are “have collapsed spectacularly”.

From then on she wanted to understand, analyse, grasp what pushes a young girl to unite and to comply with the rules of life as a couple. She undertook her research, which took her on many fronts – historical, cultural, political, biological, neuroscientific. She neglected none of them, finding through animation the means to illustrate them, to connect them and to intertwine them all.

This is how it is done, in My Love Affair with Marriage, a fantastic journey to the center of the human body. Journey based on the journey of a little girl, Zelma, born in 1963 on the island of Sakhalin, in the far east of Russia. Twenty-five years of his life will be retraced. His emotions, dissected, explained, illuminated by an ingenious, prolific, multifaceted animation. At the risk, sometimes, of generating redundancies which result in giving the story the appearance of a lecture.

Neural connections

When the film begins, Zelma has just celebrated her 7th birthday. She believes in fairy tales, in the virtues of marriage whose ears she hears. Without a husband, she hears everywhere, life is hardly worth living. While biding her time, Zelma does not hesitate to defend herself and to raise her hand against those who, at school, look for lice on her. “She hits, she’s not a girl”, people say around her. The signal is sent, makes its way. To make himself lovable, he will have to conform and be docile. Like this little girl (all dressed in pink, wise as a picture) to whom the gaze of the boy who so appeals to Zelma turned.

It is then that neural connections are set up. Pushing our young heroine to adapt to the world around her and to change her behavior. This is for the sole purpose of receiving compliments which will immediately stimulate the nucleus accumbens – the key structure of its reward circuitry. Thus grows Zelma, each new experience – first emotions, first kisses, first menstruation, first sexual relationship (disappointing)… – acting on her body and her brain. Which begins to secrete various hormones and send all kinds of electric shocks. This world of networks, fluids and connections appears to us in the form of animated diagrams, explained by a character resembling a little green ghost named Biology.

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