North Bend Film Fest 2021 Review: Superior

  • Director: Erin Vassilopoulos
  • Writer: Alessandra Mesa, Erin Vassilopoulos
  • Stars: Alessandra Mesa, Ani Mesa, Pico Alexander

Review

Finding herself on the run from her abusive husband, Marian pays an unexpected visit to her twin sister Vivian. Despite living polar opposite lives, the two easily meld back together after a six year separation, but things do not go as smoothly as everyone plans. Screening at the Northbend Film Festival, writer/director Erin Vassilopoulos’s feature film debut Superior is an intimate, dreamy take on choices and identities and how they shape our existence.

Utilizing the current trend of 80’s nostalgia, Superior looks and feels like that hallowed decade, however, it does not feel contrived. Instead of forcing the story into the aesthetic for the sake of  a cool factor, the 80’s are the perfect time for Marian and Vivian to reconnect with one another. While Vivian lives a very safe and predictable life with her husband Michael, Vivian is a musician who seems to thrive on chaos. Looking for a safe place to lay low, Marian immediately inserts herself into Vivian’s life and the two fall back into sisterly habits.

While Marian falls deeper into a paranoia spiral about her husband, having terror filled hallucinations, she finds the banality and boredom of Vivian’s life to be exactly what she needs. Conversely, Vivian thinks that Marian’s part time job at a local ice cream shop looks fun. As they did when they were younger, the two sisters switch places with one another so they can enjoy each other’s life.

Ani Mesa plays straight laced Vivian so delicately and getting to witness her enjoy the freedom of an afternoon doing anything she likes is a delight to watch. Alessandra Mesa tackles the role of Marian with a constant undercurrent of anxiety, masked by an “I don’t give a shit” attitude that is perfection. These two sisters mesh together seamlessly when they share the screen, but also command your attention in their respective solo scenes. Superior is one of those movies that lulls you into a false sense of suburban security while you watch the characters accomplish everyday tasks like vacuuming and grocery shopping, meanwhile, the outside world is silently conspiring to take all of this security away from them.

The inevitable third act creeps up just as slowly as the days seem to go by in this universe and this makes for a perfect juxtaposition of beauty and violence. Not a detail is missed in Superior: every ounce of the film is steeped in the 80’s, while the score is a perfect balance of modern/retro synth. A bit like a Lynchian day dream, Superior is a strange love letter to sisterhood and family that unfolds like a lazy afternoon.

Played at North Bend Film Festival 2021

Lisa Fremont

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