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July 30, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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The Unpolished

Pia Marais’ debut film The Unpolished is not so much a snapshot of an idyllic, rambling childhood summer gone slightly awry as an exercise in terrible parenting. Fourteen-year-old Stevie (played brilliantly by Ceci Chuh) lives with her junkie mother, her fresh out of jail father (the almost endearingly deadbeat Birol Ünel from Head On) and an assortment of other hippies, losers and transients in an abandoned house in provincial Germany.

Stevie attempts to live on the verge of normality, telling her friends that her parents are absent diplomats and gluing her family’s heads onto a ‘normal’ family photo. But it is a task too difficult when the things she regularly witnesses include her mother blissfully high and her father intermittently having sex with a nutjob model and building a horse trailer so he can transport drugs around Europe without attracting suspicion. It is amazing that Stevie is as grounded as she is. At the same time, and perhaps this is because of the sheer patience of the film, there is still something oddly seductive about the beautiful weather and halcyon setting, where no one really does anything. Marais isn’t giving any answers or even asking many questions; this is simply a summer in Stevie’s life from which we are left to draw our own conclusions.

PIA MARAIS

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