Serbian-Romanian director Ivana Mladenovic goes full autofiction in her third feature, inviting her whole family and friends to re-enact a personal crisis she went through in 2017.
Family as the core of all neurosis is a common starting-point but it is rarely done with such comic rage and intensity. Ivana Cea Groznica is a film so full of energy and life, leaving you expecting the characters to burst out of the screen, chatting nonsensically and arguing until the end of the night. Everyone seems a bit ridiculous in this little town of Kladovo, especially the town leaders who want Ivana to be the face of their cultural festival, but the eye of Mladenovic is kindly towards them. The pace of the film is weirdly erratic, going from static and languid moments to bursts of insane dialogues, delivered - often in different languages, sometimes at the same time - at incredible speed; as if the editing was trying to emulate Ivana's shifting moods. At times, it's actually hard to totally understand where it all might be leading to, but it's going there with such an infectious fervor that you stop worrying about it and just enjoy the craziness of Ivana's little world.
By using her story and turning her own body into the comical driving force of the film, Ivana Mladenovic embraces the long tradition of neurotic actor-directors which includes Luc Moullet, Joao Cesar Monteiro and Nanni Moretti. And Ivana Cea Groznica is stunning proof that she lives up to that tradition.