REVIEW OF THE FILM "CASA BLANCA" BY ALEKSANDRA MACIUSZEK
In one of the scenes in the documentary film "Casa Blanca" by Aleksandra Matuszek, the main protagonist, thirty-something, mentally deficient Vladimir, says to his paralysed mother: I am no longer a child! Adulthood and self-determination is the most important thing for Vladimir, to be free means to be "normal," that is, just like everyone else in Casa Blanca.
The eponymous town is located at the entry to the bay of Hawaii. Here lives Vladimir, suffering from the Down's syndrome, together with his paralysed mother. Nelsa's disease is a dramatic challenge and the greatest exam in life for her son. Vladimir has to abandon the role of a "big kid" who demands constant attention and to turn into the sole guardian as well as the head of the household. In his new role, he helps his mother in the simplest actions, renovates the house, cleans the house, obligations typical for "normal" people are thrust upon him. Overcoming difficulties, he proves to everyone - and particularly, to himself - that he is a rightful member of the society. This longed-for freedom and independence has another side, too. When Vladimir leaves the confines of his house and joins the men of the local fishing base, he wants to match his companions at all costs and he tries alcohol. Drunk, he turns into the object of ridicule for the inhabitants, but he also begins to understand that making decisions about oneself has consequences, that one can make mistakes and come across evil.
Vladimir gradually becomes a man, grows up, but the sensitive soul of the child still remains in him. The world of a handicapped person, presented by Maciuszek, is a difficult reality, full of emotions and experiences. It is inhabited by two protagonists - Vladimir and Nelsa - hurt by fate, one mentally, the other - physically. However, this does not mean that they are in some sense worse or poorer than others. The director shows us that, just like healthy people, they love, are sad, are afraid, scared of losing the loved ones. Often it turns out that the life of Vladimir and Nelsa seems internally richer, simpler and more sincere. Any signs of disapproval, distance and aggression in the film are associated rather with the world of healthy people.
Maciuszek looks carefully and patiently at this world; one moment she is close to the protagonists, assuming their perspective, another time she tries to look a bit from the side, as if she was looking for the mirror of the interior lives of Vladimir and Nelsa in the transient landscapes. All this encourages us to immense ourselves in this world, because only insightful observation and acquaintance guarantees understanding of another, "different" human being.