Housekeeping For Beginners – REVIEW 

Housekeeping For Beginners – REVIEW 
Image: (l-r.) Samson Selim stars as Ali, Vladimir Tintor as Toni, Anamaria Marinca as Dita and Sara Klimoska as Elena in HOUSEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS. Credit: Viktor Irvin Ivanov / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

In a large house in a thriving city in North Macedonia, a group of disparate, disenfranchised people try to live their chaotic, tangental lives under the one roof. Goran Stolevski’s third major feature film, Housekeeping For Beginners, is gritty, dark, funny, and emotionally intelligent — and quite possibly destined for an Oscar. 

The film begins frenetically, with lots of different characters being introduced quickly, dialogue that is too fast for the subtitles, sharp-cut editing and seemingly unrelated scenes. Coupled with unsteady hand-held camera, it makes for a challenging exposition. 

Anamaria Marinca as Dita in HOUSEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS. film still

However, once a trigger-point incident happens, the narrative begins to settle and gel, and the film becomes quite engrossing. 

Dita (Anamaria Marinca) is a social worker in early middle-age who lives in a well-appointed house in a good neighbourhood. She inherited the home from her father who had been a politician. 

Dita has an even, pragmatic nature and a kind heart and as such, tends to take her work home, so to speak. She has amassed a motley group of un-paying housemates. 



Among them is Toni (Vladimir Tintor), a gay man in his 40s; Ali (Samson Selim), Toni’s much younger, peroxide-haired love interest who comes from a much rougher part of town; some random young women; Dita’s partner, Sauda (Alina Serban), Sauda’s teenage daughter, Vanesa (Mia Mustafa) and younger daughter, Mia (Dzada Selim).

We learn fairly early in the film that Sauda has terminal cancer — and a volatile temper. Her unpredictable character actually creates a lot of tension and makes viewing uncomfortable, and it is only after she dies (the aforementioned trigger-point) that you can relax into the story. 

Mia Mustafa as Vanesa in HOUSEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS. film still

That story is still filled with angst and suspense. In anticipation of her passing, Sauda has made Dita promise to be the mother of Vanesa and Mia, and Dita reluctantly agrees. 

To complete the family ruse, Dita convinces Toni to marry her and “adopt” the children. This goes over like a lead-balloon for Toni and Vanesa and the whole household is suddenly forced to deal with successive moments of crises. 

Dzada Salim. Image: film poster

The script is excellent with very authentic and often quite witty dialogue. The characters are thoughtfully, empathetically drawn, with their respective differences being overcome by a synergetic dynamic among them. 

Dzada Selim as 5-year-old Mia is an absolute scene-stealer with personality of a golden-age Hollywood vixen. 

Housekeeping For Beginners is ostensibly a queer film interwoven with Balkan socio-politics, but its themes are universal: love, friendship, family, class, resilience – basically all the visceral experiences around being human. 

The film made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year,  and wond the prestigious Queer Lion Award. It has been selected as North Macedonia’s Oscars submission for Best International film. 


In cinemas May 9

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.