Fantasia 2021: Sweetie, You Won't Believe It Makes The Hangover Look Boring
Cass Clarke
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It is an outrageously funny comedy of errors, wherein a hapless trio of men looking to bond, inept gangsters and the One-Eyed killer accidentally cross paths with one another. Directed and co-written by Ernar Nurgaliev, the absurd film relies on a chain of unhappy accidents to send its many ridiculous players on a collision course that's wildly fun to watch, even if you're not sure who you're rooting for.
After winning over audiences at its global premiere at the Warsaw International Film Festival, Sweetie, You Won't Believe It makes its Canadian debut at Fantasia's 25th International Film Festival. While the Kazakhstan film isn't available just yet in the U.S., it's perfect for American fans who loved The Hangover and The Suicide Squad. In fact, it easily surpasses both through its focus on character-led moments of absurdity, while fully committing to a plot where you believe that anything that can happen and will happen to these silly men.
That being said, Sweetie, You Won't Believe It's comedy skews on the darker side. While it really loves its jokes about sex dolls, it's also not afraid to show how dumb some of these men truly are. Viewers need the stomach for irreverent bloodshed and a heavy dosage of slapstick comedy, as the film employs both frequently.
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It opens on Das (Daniar Alshinov), a man who's late on his loan payments and is frustrated by his pregnant wife Zhanna's (Asel Kaliyeva) constant beratement. At first, this setup is trite and cliche, but the film quickly makes up for it by equally showing how ridiculous masculinity is and the bloody problems men's poor communication skills can cause.
While Das picks up groceries and procrastinates 0n finding the perfect name for his unborn child, he hears a news piece that suggests a fishing trip is a man's primal need. Inspired by this idea -- and looking for any excuse to get out of his tense household -- he sets off on a fishing trip with his two buddies Arman (Azamat Marklenov) and Murat (Erlan Primbetov) to find himself. This decision sets off the oddball chain of events to follow.
Das' viewpoint really anchors the film amidst the insanity. Alshinov, who also co-wrote the film, is acutely aware of the straight-man act that he's playing and does well as the king of the dunces. However, Alshinov is also well aware that Das' need to go on a fishing trip is rooted in some much deeper fears about fatherhood. When he lets Das really express his feelings in the film's third act, it's stunning. His character has a habit of spewing pop psychology as a way to understand the world, but it's apparent that he's really searching to understand himself and looking in all the wrong places -- most of those moments ending at gun-point for him.
While the inept gangster subplot might veer a little too much into zany and bloody territories, the film thankfully finds a creative way to bring the story back to Das, Arman and Murat. At times, it might be tempting to ask, "What is the point of all this?" The truth is, there really isn't much point to its senseless violence. The real journey is watching these Rambo-inspired men come face-to-face with violence and see how it changes their perspective on each other. Although the film starts off calling Das "pussy-whipped," by its end, it's abundantly clear that the real fear driving these men is the worry that they will not be a part of each other's lives anymore once Das' baby is born. It might take a lot of explosions and gunshots to get there, but the film does eventually show the beauty of men being vulnerable amongst each other.
For those viewers wondering if Zhanna will get any justice, the short, non-spoiler answer is yes. The film never seeks to be about Zhanna, but it does return to her in a way that balances her controlling appearance at the start. Sweetie, You Won't Believe It's ending visual of her more than suggests that the earlier Zhanna we saw was just one version of her -- the I will give birth any moment one -- and that's not all that there is to her or her marriage with Das.
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It is set to release in the U.K. and America from film 101 Films. Distribution rights were acquired in June 2021, but no release date is set at this time.