One can only be treated like a dog for so long. Marianna Palka’s return to writing, directing, and acting (after 2008’s Good Dick), brings us Bitch. Jill Hart (Palka) is a stay-at-home mom tending to her four children and husband, Bill (Jason Ritter). After a failed suicide attempt, she mentally regresses into a pissed-off dog. She doesn’t want to be touched, bothered with, or petted. She wants to be left the hell alone to her own devices in the family’s dark basement. After a desperate attempt by her sister (Jaime King) to get her psychological attention, Bill stops all semblances of help and continues living in denial.

In a way, Bitch is the ultimate “f*** you” dream. After being taken advantage of and never getting a break, Jill snaps unapologetically. She does what anyone who has felt repressed wants to do: run away. However, instead of physically fleeing, she does it mentally, leaving a bigger impression on those around her.

Watching the movie almost felt like watching a wave crash. It grows and grows in ways that pull you in like an undertow. As Jill’s sister desperately tries to find a way to call mental services, Bill proceeds to refuse them, creating a pressure between him and Jill’s family. Then after the movie progresses, it crashes, and it’s over, and the viewer can’t help but wonder if there’s something more to it. A pattern of rising and falling action in a movie is normal; however, Bitch makes it so blunt. The ending is open to interpretation, but it’s almost unsatisfying that viewers don’t get a solid answer to what happens to the Hart family. Do they begin to address their issues? Does everything go back to what it once was?

Though Bitch is considered a comedy, I did not find this the case. It’s a drama, about a woman’s stress and pain eating her alive, though there are some comedic elements, especially in the beginning. Without a doubt, the soundtrack hits the right mark. A mix of the plucking of string instruments, clapping, children’s laughter, and the unmistakable sound of a spring being hit adds to the confusion.

Although the drama, masquerading as a comedy, hits us with obvious symbolism, it is still an enjoyable watch, if not a predictable one.

Written and Directed by Marianna Palka
Released by Dark Sky Films
USA. 93 min. Not rated
With Marianna Palka, Jason Ritter, Jaime King, Brighton Sharbino, and Rio Mangini