After a childhood spent in the working class neighborhood of a small industrial town on the shores of the Black Sea, Ana Petreanu is now captain of a major handball team and married to the financial manager of the factory that sponsors the club.
But a serious injury clouds this perfect picture. Ana is confronted with the limitations of her own body and her most intimate fears. The team’s management hire a renowned physiotherapist, Frenchwoman Emilie, in order to bring Ana as quickly as possible back on the court. Only Emilie tries to make Ana aware that a return to the court could endanger both her career and her health. Marius, Ana’s husband, is displeased by the complicity the two women harbor and doesn’t take kindly to this stranger’s intrusion. Especially since Emilie is a lesbian…
However, his apparent jealousy conceals something else. After a domestic argument, Marius reveals that the factory and the team will soon be liquidated, dismantled and sold piece by piece. This is why management pressures Ana to play to her full potential – they want to keep the appearances and cash in the most amount of money before it all turns into dust.
Ana is mortified. All along, her battle with her own body had only been a prologue to her battle with an entire corrupt societal system. After a lifetime’s struggle out on the court, Ana readies herself for the ultimate match: the one that will tell her what price she needs to pay, in order to regain her own freedom.
Adina Dulcu’s note:
The starting point of Chemistry is a personal questioning that has been preoccupying me for a long time: that of personal identity and construction, of the position we take within a corrupt socio-political context and the consequences it engenders. Ana’s story is about the emancipation of a woman in search for her own freedom, who runs into the ruthless wall of a patriarchal society marred by corruption and intolerance.
The sporting world, in conjunction with the industrial world — both of them in decay — struck me as the most appropriate background to implement Ana’s story. The title enfolds all the values I want to explore: the industrial chemistry of the factory and its ultra-polluted environment, the chemistry of the bodies thrashing out on the handball court, the organic chemistry installing between Ana and Emilie and condemned by everyone. It’s this multiplicity I would like to capture, between the atmosphere of a social drama and a more intimate and poetic film.
This story speaks about Romania and the look I take at it as a woman, but it also carries the grain of universality that pushes us towards a questioning about individual freedom and taking position for oneself, regardless of our nationality, culture or gender. And last, but not least, it’s also a story about that kind of encounter that overwhelms and changes our lives. Call it friendship, love, alter-ego, soul mate or chemistry, we all need a mirror in order to better see ourselves…