Directed by: Ioana Uricaru
Starring: Mãlina Manovici, Dylan Smith, Milan Hurduc
Mara (Mãlina Manovici) is a young Romanian woman working in America when she meets and marries Daniel (Dylan Smith). After she brings her nine-year-old son Dragos (Milan Hurduc) to America, things are looking good for her new family until she encounters problems when applying for a Green Card.
Lemonade opens with Mara and Daniel being interviewed by the US immigration authorities, including immigration officer Moji (Steve Bacic), who seems kind to begin with, but he has a cruel misogynistic streak and he’s happy to exploit those desperate enough. It’s through the conversations between these characters that you slowly start to piece together their story, how Mara and Daniel met and if their marriage was just a way for Mara to stay in America. Lemonade paints the immigration process as something that’s incredibly difficult and often dehumanising to those who go through it. With the problems Mara encounters it’s clear that this hardship is worth it to her and that living in America would give her and her son more prospects than in her homeland.
It’s unfortunate that Mara’s naivety almost stretches the credibility of her story. The decisions she makes are in part fuelled by her desperation to stay in America, and in part due to her being an honest person who’s still learning the way America’s rules and regulations work. She believes in America to be different but she soon finds that the men in power can be just as corrupt and dangerous as in any other country.
Manovici gives a fine performance but it’s a shame that Mara is such an inconsistent character. She’s mostly naïve but there’s the odd moment when she gets some steely determination as she tries to overcome the many obstacles that are put in her path. Those moments are short-lived and she’s soon back to being ignorant of the world at large.
Lemonade is a topical yet bleak film about immigration but with some characters actions and reactions being so inconsistent and full of naiveté, it makes the whole venture feel less believable and even more depressing.