(Out)playing the Vatican: “The Parade” at the goEast Festival of Central and Eastern European Film3 min read

 In Baltics, Review, Reviews

In The Parade, a delightfully relatable comedy of errors, Titus Laucius presents a simple but highly entertaining story that embodies what Forrest Gump once presented as the ultimate lesson:  “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Miglė (an excellent Rasa Samuolyte in this role) could use a little break from her rather hectic and problematic life. As the conductor of a high school brass band, she’s preparing her students to do their best in the upcoming town parade. Her perfectionist nature demands absolute excellence. But control of the situation slips away as the first wave of problems arise. The spiritus movens of this series of unfortunate events is her daughter Gabriele (Barbora Bareikyte), one of the leading musicians in the aforementioned brass band, who, after an accident with a colleague who is constantly tormenting her, declares that she is swapping her music lessons for capoeira classes. There is also a lack of optimism on the domestic front. The last thing Miglė needs is a request from her ex-husband Eimantas (Giedrius Savickas), who, after years of civil divorce, is seeking an ecclesiastical annulment so he can marry his new fiancée at the altar. In a conspiratorial atmosphere, former spouses join forces to convince a church tribunal that their marriage was an irreparable mistake, and as witnesses we are invited to observe this unequal struggle with intransigent clerics.

The film is a clever depiction of the surprising acts that the universe throws at us, especially when we least expect them. Accustomed to the monotonous flow of our professional and personal lives, we often forget that stability cannot be taken for granted, and chaotic mischief finds its way into our dull reality. Miglė, freed from the shackles of her daily routine, balances between rehearsing with her brass band and creating elaborate fake scenarios of her previous church wedding. The second story is more rewarding for the viewer, as it exposes the comic absurdities of ecclesiastical bureaucracy. Both Miglė and Eimantas are desperate to convince the priests’ committee to accept their half-baked explanation that Eimantas was under the influence of alcohol when they exchanged vows. But there is more to this series of encounters between ex-spouses than the scuffles with suspicious clerics.

Throughout all the meetings, Miglė and Eimantas realise how much they, once so close to each other, have drifted apart. They try again, step by step, to find a common language, relying on the past. This is a subtle game the director is playing with the audience — should we assume that there is a chance for these two to get back together? The connection is still there, and you can almost never really cut off one of the most important people in your life. But in the end, they all get what they initially wanted — Eimantas gets the official annulment he so desperately wanted, and Miglė can go home to her loving husband with the feeling that she has done a good deed. The natural order of things has been restored and they can breathe a sigh of relief.

Titus Laucius is a young film director from Lithuania, whose previous short films Snake (2018) and Family Unit (2019) both received awards at the Vilnius Film Festival. In an interview, Laucius admitted that he’s not one for overly serious stories: “Maybe it’s the way I see life […] I see the absurd.” He also declared that he’s a big fan of Czech humour, and it’s evident in the style he’s brought to this feature. The Parade is a tender, pleasant story about people who have to reconnect with each other under rather absurd circumstances. It’s a perfect ode to a complicated construct called accident, which shapes our lives again and again, leaving us as different persons each time. The parade of life will go on and we have no idea what it’s going to bring.

Feature Image: The Parade
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