Review: Olla

Grégoire Tachnakian and Romanna Lobach in “Olla.”

Dir. Ariane Labed. 27 minutes.
3/5

Olla (Romanna Lobach) is a mail-order bride, imported from somewhere in Eastern Europe by Pierre (Grégoire Tachnakian), a bashful, awkward semi-incel who looks sort of like a balding Roman Polanski.

With her garish orange hair and high heels, Olla isn’t good at speaking French, looking French or acting French. While Olla’s awkwardness is due to her recent emigration, Pierre’s seems innate: he is neither charming nor earnest, bold nor generous. Soon, Olla finds herself chafing under the burden of playacting the wife to a useless dork, and of taking care of his elderly, immobile mother.

Shot in marvelous reds and oranges reminiscent — oddly — of “Amélie,” “Olla” keeps us at a distance from its heroine, rarely moving in for close-ups. Her actions come as a surprise to those around her, the viewer included. Olla has no easy way to communicate with others, so the viewer has little on which to eavesdrop. Though “Olla” doesn’t mangle its storytelling by trying to “say” something, a little more elaboration would have been nice: Where does Olla come from? What prompted her decision to leave? And what about the film’s explosive climax? Director Ariane Labed leads us out onto a precipice and then leaves us there.