I for one will never go to a school or class reunion. The whole concept of meeting up with people you never liked enough to keep in touch with and playing the happiness game is totally repugnant to me. Swedish Artist and filmmaker Anna Odell had an unhappy school life and was bullied. She wanted to say something at her reunion but was the only one not invited. In order to purge her demons and sate her fascination with power structures and class hierarchies she made The Reunion – an imagining of how events would have played out.
Anna makes her film, in which she makes a speech about how unhappy, bullied and excluded she felt at school. However, her former classmates are in a party mood and despite half-hearted attempts to assuage her anger, they eventually get fed-up and throw her out. Upon completion, she tracks down some of her former classmates, shows them the film and then discusses it with them. They either refuse to take part or cannot see how they’ve done anything wrong. They were kids after all.
Anna Odell faked her own suicide in her first film, which caused a media scandal and ended with her being fined in court. She’s not a stranger to controversy and her new film is problematic in terms of its one-sided narrative and the impossibility of knowing what actually happened at school. Anna is obsessed with power dynamics (which was the main focus of her debut also) and seemingly uses her ability as a filmmaker as a way of exercising her demons. Whilst The Reunion may have merit as a work of art or social investigation, it sadly doesn’t work as a film.
The Reunion is out in cinemas on Friday.