Words by Kaylee-Rose Payne
Ariane Labed’s revolutionary 30 minute drama, Olla, follows a Western European woman that responds to an online dating ad to be a “wife” to French man Pierre, as well as taking care of his elderly mother in a french suburb. After the superficial relationship starts to turn toxic, Olla (who has an unapologetic idgaf attitude) starts doing small acts of rebellion to take control and to gain respect within her vulnerable situation...just a shame that the film is only 30 minutes long!
After watching Ariane Labed’s 30-minute drama Olla, I have decided that I will somehow try to snap up and acquire Olla’s (Romanna Lobats) independent ‘I don’t give a f’ attitude for Summer 2021…well perhaps just a small fraction of her attitude will be enough for me! But nevertheless, if I could pull off her attitude I would.
The short drama follows Olla, a western European woman, who responds to an online dating ad to be a “wife” to French man Pierre (Grégoire Tachnakian) who lives in a dated suburban town with his ailing mother, who Olla is to take care of as well as “wifely duties”. Whilst watching the film, I thought perhaps Olla and Pierre just met online on Tinder or something, however after reading the synopsis, Olla was actually a “mail-order bride” and shipped over to Pierre in France. It sounds like any man’s sexual fantasy getting a Russian living sex toy shipped to his door but it’s safe to say Olla was not going to deliver this grim fantasy to Pierre as unfortunately for him Olla was the one in control.
At first, it seems that Olla is obeying Pierre’s wife ideals as she walks about with cloth under her shoes to polish the tiled floor as well as going to the supermarket and feeds his mother. She also doesn’t argue when Pierre wants to change her name to Lola to make it a bit more French… wow, what a perfect idyllic wife as she happily gives up her identity for a man who she “serves” as well as taking care of his dying mum. However, Olla then gives Pierre’s mother a makeover which then resulted in Pierre slapping her across the face. The “obedient” wife then decides she’s going to stand up for herself to show she’s not just an object that can be bought on the internet.
Olla starts doing small acts of rebellion from dancing in her underwear on the tiled floors without polishing them to masturbating in the kitchen. She even gives a blowjob to one of the men, who shouts abuse at her every day, for money. Something that has always baffled me is the reactions of men after they’ve been rejected. For instance, when a man calls a womxn fit or sexy and they’re rejected they then go on to call the womxn a slag, slut etc because god forbid that they didn’t start kissing the ground the man walked on. Don’t we all just hate toxic masculinity?! God knows where they get the audacity from. Anyways, every time Olla walked to the supermarket, she was faced with a group of men who called her sexy then a slag until she gave one of them head. She actually took control of the situation and although I’m not recommending people to start selling blow jobs on street corners, Olla was actually profiting financially from the looser. And lastly, without being too much of a spoiler, Olla is the one who takes control of her time at the French suburb and her relationship with Pierre.
Overall, the film has an odd combination of being humorous and toxic, with a real strong feminist independent ‘idgaf’ influence and attitude from Olla. The film really portrays the importance of respect towards womxn, but particularly towards those most vulnerable. Pierre saw Olla to be weak and sold herself to him giving him ‘ownership’ and power. Yet- just because he paid for her to be ‘shipped over’ doesn’t mean he has control of her as she’s not an object. What Pierre should’ve done was to take his mum to a care home, pay for a cleaner to polish his floor and paid for a sex toy rather than having this patriarchal and toxic view that Olla will do it without respect.
Without a doubt, I highly enjoyed this revolutionary short drama which I would’ve loved to have been a long-feature film as I want to know what Olla did after leaving the French suburb that she ruffled up.